MARIETTA, Ga - Marietta Police say awareness and prevention are key to keeping children from being lured into gangs. Parents who are worried that their children might be involved in gangs or are being recruited by a gang can now easily and discreetly communicate with gang investigators. Marietta Police set up a dedicated email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
"We were looking for a way to reach out to those parents so they can discreetly reach out to us," said Marietta Police Officer Chuck McPhilamy.
It's not just for parents, anyone in the community who sees something suspicious can report it.
"They can just snap a picture with their smartphone and email us photos of graffiti or tagging that they aren't sure if this is something simple or something to be worried about and officers can look into it," said Officer McPhilamy.
"I think it gives parents that are curious and don't want to bring alarm to a child the opportunity to ask someone who is familiar with gangs a question," said Delores Powell with Cool Kids Committee.
Powell is the founder of the Cool Kids Committee. She works with at-risk youth and teens who are being bullied and she works with gang members and helps them get on the right track through sports and other activities.
Powell says these days parents are often so busy, they may miss the warning signs.
"They may not realize they're only wearing specific colors and the different groups they're hanging with and the terminology and the slang they're using," said Powell.
Powell says parents shouldn't hesitate to talk to investigators about their fears when it comes to gangs and their children.
"Your kids are the biggest investment and if you're not going to invest in them, the gangs will," said Powell.
Marietta police are also using social media to talk about warning signs, as well as colors, clothing, and symbols of criminal street gangs.