KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A retired police officer is spending his days deciphering graffiti gang codes in the Kansas City area, and teaching others how to do the same. To the untrained eye these are random letters, numbers, and symbols but when combined carries a dangerous message.
“The next thing you know, you’re getting drive by shootings, cars are getting stolen, houses are getting broken into,” says Jeff Brownlee, a retired police officer.
Brownlee spent years on the KCK police force deciphering graffiti. After 20 years of service, he’s still spending his time tracking gang activity. Now he’s teaching others to do the same.
Brownlee explains some of the markings popped up over the weekend. He says the SPV territory expands to about half a mile radius. But there are problems brewing.
“These are two gangs kind of bickering, fighting with each other through graffiti on the wall,” he says.
Based on the Xs on the wall, another gang has joined the turf war. Brownlee often drives around town to document graffiti and monitor the changes. He says you can often predict what happens next if you know what you’re looking for.
“When someone exes out something like this, it’s a sign of disrespect. In the gang world, disrespect is met with some type of violence,” Brownlee says.
He’s been holding classes to educate people about what to look for and when to call police for help. He says there are about a dozen active gangs currently in KCK. Watch the video in the player above for more on the gang graffiti language.