AUGUSTA, GA ( WJBF) — Darnell Hickman knows firsthand the impact of gang violence — it took the life of 8-year-old Arbie Anthony — a girl who lived just around the corner from him in Dogwood Terrace.

“The whole neighborhood was hurt. She was nothing but eight years old. She had her whole life planned for her,” Hickman said.

He grew up on the South Side of Chicago where gang violence was a common sight– but it’s one he wants to see end.

“It’s a waste of life. Its a waste of youth. Its a waste of succeeding in life.”

With the help of the state cracking down on gang activity in Richmond and other counties could soon become easier.

Deputies said a new statewide gang prosecution unit could make a difference in tackling gang activity in Burke County.

“I think it will help the state and every community that gangs are involved in,” Sgt. Johnny Synder said.

Gang investigators in Burke County said the new unit could mean better prosecution for gang related crime especially as the county sees a rise gang activity.

“I think just having this time to aggressively go and prosecute these individuals that are committing these violent crimes in furtherance to their gang is a huge benefit to the state.”

Investigators said it would also help relieve some of the burden on the district attorney who deals with thousands of cases.

“I think it will be able to benefit the DA’s office as well when it comes to training, when it comes to manpower, when it comes to investigators at these local agencies because they’ll be able to help us build these cases better so we will be able to prosecute them to the full extent of the law,” Synder said.

The unit will go into effect July 1.