Toppenish Looking to Outlaw Gang Members - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Toppenish Looking to Outlaw Gang Members

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TOPPENISH, Wash -  Another city in central Washington is looking into an ordinance that would outlaw gang members.  The Toppenish City Council and police department held a special meeting Monday night to talk about their gang problem.  

"The gangs in the past could basically do what they wanted to do and nothing happened, that's going to change," says Loren Belton, Toppenish City Councilmember.

Police say there are over 250 gang members in Toppenish.  During the meeting officers taught the city and the community about gangs in the area.  People who came believe something needs to be done.

"It is important to change some of the laws because things are not working, so it's a good idea, I think we're going in the right direction,"explains Frank East, a Toppenish resident.

Other community members have a different view.

"As a ex-gang member...I wouldn't want it because i think people would jump to conclusions and might cause something to break loose,"says Adolfo Cuevas, a former Toppenish gang member.

Toppenish officials say it is important for each city who passes a gang ordinance to make them equally strong, so gangs don't pick and choose cities they want to be in.

"We want to make it no matter what community they go to they're are up against the same laws, ordinances and citizens attitudes," explains Belton.

The council says once they work out some legal issues, they will look to pass a gang ordinance in the next few weeks.