NEW ORLEANS - As violence across New Orleans continues, authorities believe groups of criminals are carrying out some of the attacks.
"Whatever term you choose, whether it be gangs or loosely associated groups of kids, there are clearly numbers of kids who come together, identify with a certain piece of land and then use that as a way to kind of make themselves feel stronger and better," said NOPD Supt. Ronal Serpas.
It's a point Serpas made last month, while addressing city council members on the NOPD’s violence reduction plan.
Serpas said the department is focused on identifying the key players.
"Who are these young people? What are their relationships? What are their criminal enterprises that are collaborative," he said during the meeting with council members.
Drugs continue driving much of the violence, but according to officials, groups in the city these days don't resemble other, more notorious gangs across the country.
"We don't see the types of Crips and Blood gangs that you used to see," Serpas said. "A gang in the sense of, 'I'm the third person in charge, you're the fourth person in charge' is not as prevalent, but groups of kids coming together saying 'we're all under the same ideas' is prevalent."
Tulane University Criminologist Dr. Peter Scharf agrees.
"These are quasi-organized groups," Scharf said. "They often don't have signage, but they're involved typically around narcotics or other criminal activity and they do have organizational structure."
Officials said that type of ‘group’ mentality can intensify the influence on individuals - a reason the NOPD said it is beefing up efforts to break up gangs.
Scharf said it’ll be a tall task.
"Destabilization of these groups can be very dangerous, but having said that, the more you know, knowledge is not going to hurt. It's a good thing to bring that kind of training in," he said.