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Oklahoma City police chief cites gangs, drugs for increase in deadly violence

Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty said gang activity, drugs drive increase in homicides in Oklahoma City in 2012. Drug-related crimes aren't just about deals gone bad or gang violence, he said. Many other homicides have a drug connection.
BY BRYAN DEAN Modified: January 13, 2013 at 5:12 pm •  Published: January 13, 2013

Another common theme in many of the homicides police investigated in 2012 was drugs. Citty said drug-related crimes aren't just about deals gone bad or gang violence.

“In most cases, there is a drug nexus,” he said. When someone is killed during a robbery or other crime, there often is a drug connection.

DeWayne Walker is youth pastor at Prospect Baptist Church on the city's northeast side, where many of the homicides occurred.

“We're in the heart of the 'hood,” Walker said “You see lots of things, definitely drug activity going on. Prostitution, you name it. You're going to see it in our neighborhood.”

The city has prevention programs aimed at steering kids away from gangs and educating them about drugs. But it takes years to see results from such work.

“The programs and things only go so far,” Citty said. “You try to work with the schools. But those are more long-term solutions. Right now you have short-term problems.”

The chief said the top priority for bringing homicides down in 2013 is to focus resources in areas where the violence is most concentrated. If officers can arrest dangerous criminals and confiscate their weapons before they use them to kill someone, the city may avoid record homicide numbers in 2013.

Anyone with information about any Oklahoma City homicides is urged to call the homicide tip line at 297-1200.

Contributing: Staff Writer Juliana Keeping has disabled the comments for this article.