|North Carolina Department of Public Safety|
|For Immediate Release
May 1, 2001
Contact: Keith Acree
Intelligence officer monitors inmate gang activity
SANFORD - As the facility intelligence officer at minimum-security Sanford Correctional Center, Sgt. Kenneth Cross is on the front lines of the fight against gang activity in North Carolina prisons.
Cross is one of more than 11,000 certified correctional staff who protect public safety by supervising offenders at one of the states 78 prisons. Gov. Mike Easley has proclaimed May 20-26 as Correctional Officers Week in North Carolina.
While North Carolina's prison gang problem isn't as severe as in some other parts of the country, there are inmates throughout the prison system who associate with groups like the Latin Kings, the Five Percenters and the United Blood Nation.
"One gang member is one too many. It puts staff and other inmates in jeopardy," said Cross. "While the inmates I work with are in minimum custody, they can still be dangerous. They're just as capable of doing violent things."
Cross is a 14-year Department of Correction veteran, who joined the department after three years in the military. He first considered the Highway Patrol, but a friend in the National Guard recommended the prison system instead.
Cross receives frequent intelligence bulletins from the Division of Prisons security office with the latest information about security threat groups. He also takes part in security and intelligence training sessions about every three months. He's always on the lookout for signs of gang activity - things like tattoos, hand signals and gang related literature and magazines. Information often comes to him from other officers and inmates. "Sometimes inmates will hear something on the yard and report it to me," he said. "Any information we can gather is a benefit."
If need be, Cross can monitor an inmate's visitation, mail and telephone use if he suspects gang-related activity may be taking place. When necessary, he also briefs prison staff on the latest intelligence information during the morning lineup.
Like many other correctional officers, Cross takes on multiple duties. In addition to his responsibilities as Intelligence Officer, he also handles disciplinary investigations, inmate drug testing, contraband control and helps supervise the prison's Community Work Crews.
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