OREM — Since creating a gang task force in Orem in June, officers have identified 35 new gang members, made 95 arrests and talked with nearly 700 individuals, some of whom are suspected gang members.

The force was created June 1, in an attempt to curb the rising incidents of graffiti and gang violence in Orem, said Orem Police Lt. Doug Edwards.

The city had seen vandalism crimes and graffiti increase 22 percent from 2005 to 2007.

However, the first five months of 2008 saw a 28 percent increase from the same five months in 2007.

In response, Public Safety Director Michael Larsen selected officers from several divisions to focus their full-time, zero-tolerance policing on gang activities.

Each of the eight officers works different hours and days, frequently changing cars as well to keep the gang members guessing, Edwards said.

Along with the arrests, the team has made 102 traffic stops, issued 41 traffic citations and made 265 business and park checks, Edwards said.

If the gang member arrested is of questionable legal status, Orem officers contact immigration officials for possible deportation.