The Tennessean's three-part series on gangs reveals a growing problem across the state, particularly in suburbia and small towns. Law enforcement is overwhelmed and schools are ripe recruiting grounds in what's part of a national trend of gangs expanding their influence to areas outside the urban core to sell drugs. The newspaper gained access to gangs, taking readers inside their world, while providing the most complete public accounting to date of gang activity across the state. Included in the online presentation is an interactive map of known gangs that operate in each of Tennessee's 95 counties. Relying on a confidential report, interviews, police records and court records, the newspaper's series found there's no consistent system to track gang activity. The lack of information leaves the public, and sometimes even law enforcement, in the dark about the scope of the problem. The paper also found some homicides with links to gangs never get reported as such by police.
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