Kings County Economic Development Corp. President John Lehn said that some gang members are being instructed to infiltrate respectable businesses and find ways to peel money off the top, making it extremely important for merchants to take steps to protect themselves.
Close to 150 people crowded into the Hanford Civic Auditorium on Wednesday to learn how to better protect themselves from gangs.
The presentation, hosted by the Kings County Economic Development Corp. and local chambers of commerce, focused on ways business owners can recognize potential gang members and what to do when violence erupts in the workplace.
“We do meetings like this on a quarterly basis for industrial managers in the area,” Kings EDC President John Lehn said. “Our previous workshops on personal and work safety got good reviews, so we decided to offer something more broadly to the community.”
Members of the Kings County Gang Task Force explained how guests can spot gang members by their clothing, tattoos and the people they associate with.
“It is not illegal to be a gang member,” said GTF Field Supervisor Charles Buhl. “They have rights just like everyone else. But it is illegal to be a gang member and to then commit a gang crime. That’s the distinction.”
Business owners were told they cannot deny someone a job based on their gang status, but they can take steps to ensure the person has not committed any recent crimes.