WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. --A fair is a family event but that doesn't stop gang members from showing up.
Many of us think of the fair as a family event. We eat the outrageous food, play the games, and try to get on as many rides as we can.
Police officers are present to keep us safe, direct traffic, and patrol the crowd. They're also there to make sure gang members don't start trouble.
"That's a very highly attended event and when we have that amount of people in a small confined area, we as far as the gang unit need to be present to make sure we don't have any gang members that are going to interrupt that family atmosphere," said Sgt. Joseph Doss, the Winston-Salem Gang Unit Specialist.
During the 10-day Dixie Classic Fair, the Winston-Salem Police Gang Unit ejected 31 people from the fair. Of that 31, 13 were gang members, and 8 were charged.
The gang unit will have a presence at events that draw a lot of people. Events could be concerts to block parties to nightclubs and high school football games.
Sgt. Doss explained to WFMY News 2's Liz Crawford that his unit knows who they're dealing with. They're on a first name basis with most gang members. At the fair, the gang unit keeps a lookout for gang related clothing, tattoos, graffiti, and gang hand signs.
The fair is a paid-event on city grounds so anyone showing gang involvement can be ejected from the fair.
Sgt. Doss admits that Winston-Salem has some gang issues but he wouldn't label it a "problem." The unit has been around since 2006 and he thinks since then there's been improvement at the fair.
"These individuals can get into groups and basically harass law abiding citizens and try to force their ways on to basically younger teenagers and try to convert them to join these gangs," said Sgt. Doss.
WFMY News 2, Winston-Salem Police