CHATTANOOGA (Times Free Press) -- The word has been out there for more than a decade, whispered in some political circles, discussed frankly inside police patrol cars, shouted from some church pulpits.

Gangs are in Chattanooga. Gangs are killing people in Chattanooga. Gangs are overrunning some Chattanooga neighborhoods.

Ministers have organized prayer circles with heads bowed. The Chattanooga Police Department has created and dismantled gang units. Social-work programs have been launched to give new opportunities to reformed gang members or to keep young kids from becoming gang members in the first place.

But the only quantifiable change is glaring: The number of gang members is now more than double the number of sworn police officers.

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