ATLANTA — Roughly 70,000 gang members call Georgia home, but Gov. Brian Kemp said recently that it's time for them to find a new place to live.
"My message to any gang member in this area, or anywhere in the state of Georgia, you should move to Florida or South Carolina," Kemp said to laughs at a Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce meeting last week.
Those comments inspired GBI Director Vic Reynolds, who was appointed by Kemp, to write an op-ed on ValdostaToday.com celebrating the fight against gangs.
"The wantonness of gang lawbreaking is exemplified in cases all over the state of Georgia," Reynolds wrote. "This is not simply a metropolitan Atlanta problem, but an issue we are seeing in suburban and rural areas of our state as well."
When Kemp appointed Reynolds to the top-cop job earlier this year, gang violence was a big priority.
"I'm tired of our neighborhoods being shot up. I'm tired of them hooking our children, and adults, and our families, on drugs, opioids and other things in our state," Kemp said.
The GBI gang task force has focused on using prosecution and the courts.
"Unfortunately, while Georgia possesses the strongest and most effective anti-gang laws in the country, they are historically underutilized," Reynolds wrote.
The GBI, according to Reynolds, has trained more state and federal prosecutors on gang prosecution laws.