Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vic Reynolds visited the Exchange Club of Rome on Friday to discuss what the state agency is doing to combat illegal street gangs.
A Rome native, Model High School graduate and former Floyd County Police Department officer, Reynolds was appointed the Director of the GBI in 2019 by Governor Brian Kemp. In this position, he leads an agency of over 900 employees.
Under Reynolds, the bureau developed the first ever statewide GBI-driven gang task force, which focuses on large scale RICO cases involving hundreds of gang members.
The group now works all of north Georgia and recently expanded into central Georgia to combat high numbers of reported drive-by shootings and aggravated assaults.
“We’re hearing these problems all over the state and not just in metropolitan areas,” Reynolds said.
Reynolds also touched on the newly implemented statewide gang database The database has a plethora of intelligence about well-known gangs and their members. Phase II of the project is expected to roll out in early 2022 and will allow local police agencies to access information about gangs.
“Let’s say you’re working a case in Columbus on a Ghostface Gangster,” Reynolds said. “You could pull that individual up and see that they are being investigated in Floyd County. They could connect with a Floyd detective and share their intel.”
Human trafficking is another big issue the GBI is trying to address. The bureau is working high numbers of human trafficking cases all over the state and is preparing to tackle a new battle in this genre of crime — labor trafficking. Reynolds gave an example of a case in which children were trafficked and forced to sell candy in the Roswell area to provide funding for incarcerated gang members. Agent training for this issue began earlier this week.
“People are being forced to do certain work,” Reynolds said. “We’re looking particularly at migratory labor trafficking south of Macon. We’re also seeing that labor trafficking is merging with sexual servitude trafficking at the same intersections.”
The bureau also handles all officer-related shooting cases in the state. Last year there were 96 of these shootings. Reynolds said his agents just finished their 80th case and believes this could be the year that number reaches past 100.