COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Twelve arrests by the Columbus Police Department hoping to make a dent in local gang activity.
A child as young as 12 among those to be arrested, sparking a new conversation about gangs in the Valley, and the issue is being handled.
With offenders getting even younger, new methods are being implemented to combat the issue.
"We've seen an uptick in gang activity. As a result, the district attorney has set aside a day where we try nothing but gang cases," said Juvenile Court Judge, Warner Kennon of Chattahoochee Valley.
The newly created "Gang Day" targets juveniles associated with gangs. One day designated to nothing but gang cases.
Usually courtroom full of law enforcement officers for security and a gang task force experts, along with a gang task force expert and dozens of law enforcement officers.
Judge Kennon says he has seen children as young as 11 associating themselves with area gangs.
"Recruit a lot of times children who really don't even know what they are getting into until they are so far into it, they can't get out. It's a very sad state of affairs. It's a very scary for the witnesses, for the family members, and for others," said Kennon.
Experts credit gang crackdowns in other cities, like Albany and Macon, Georgia for more gangs moving into the area, and recruitment of new, young, and unexpected members.
Judge Kennon says new methods have to be used to deal with the rising issue and more education on the repercussions of criminal gang involvement.