The City of Valdosta recently got another taste of what much bigger metropolitan areas are dealing with in the form of gang activity.

A suspected gang member was arrested March 19 in connection with a domestic violence case. When officers made the arrest, they discovered that their suspect wore a bulletproof vest. In a week's time, local law enforcement agencies had worked together to pinpoint the source of the vest.

With its growing population and the granting of metro status, this community will experience "big city" problems. Local agencies continue to work together, however, to send a clear message to those who would upset the community's quality of life: Criminal activity won't be tolerated here.

Valdosta police enlisted the help of a federal task force in locating the suspected gang member on March 19. Finding a bulletproof vest on the suspect proved worrisome for several reasons. A civilian wearing this kind of armor anticipates gunplay of some sort, perhaps with law enforcement. Word spread throughout the different municipalities in this area. The Lanier County Sheriff's Office shared information about the source of the vests with the Lowndes County Sheriff's Office. Police and deputies worked long hours through this past weekend until the suspects were in custody.

We can't help but contrast how this case was handled and how the search for the courthouse shooting suspect was handled in Fulton County. A much larger policing agency apparently tripped over itself searching for an escaped prisoner's car. When the vehicle turned up, it was right under law enforcement's noses.

During an unrelated driveby shooting incident Monday in the City of Valdosta, Lowndes County Sheriff Ashley Paulk was at the scene talking to Police Chief Frank Simons. Officers in this community have realized that cooperation among different agencies is an effective force multiplier. That spirit of cooperation has served us well with these investigations, and it's this spirit that is preparing us well for effectively combating big city crime that comes our way.

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