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Youth Gang Investigations

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Title: Youth Gang Investigations


1
Youth Gang Investigations
  • Chapter 15

2
Overview
  • The Growing Problem
  • Drugs, Firearms, and Gangs
  • Investigation Methods
  • Review Questions
  • Opportunity for Student Questions

3
Learning Objectives
  • Understand how and why gangs are a growing crime
    problem
  • Know the four elements that define a street youth
    gang
  • Discuss the connection of drugs and firearms to
    street gangs
  • Describe the motivations for joining a youth gang
  • Understand the various investigative methods
    commonly employed against violent youth gangs

4
Youth Gangs
  • Youth gangs are often referred to as street gangs
  • The Chicago Police Department defines a street
    gang as an association of youthful individuals,
    generally ranging in age from 13 to early 20s who
    exhibit the following characteristics
  • A gang name and recognizable symbols
  • A defined geographic territory
  • Regular meeting patterns
  • An organized, continuous course of criminality

5
Gang Prevalence in the U.S.
  • The National Institute of Justice documented
  • Gangs are a formidable problem in both large and
    small cities
  • Nearly 846,000 members belong to more than 31,000
    gangs in 5,000 jurisdictions
  • Youth crime has increased dramatically in the
    last two decades
  • 2.3 million juveniles were arrested in 1995, a
    175 increase since 1975
  • DOJ reported
  • Juveniles commit 20 of all violent crime
  • The rate is far out of proportion to their numbers

6
Offender Characteristics
  • The majority of youth gang members are black or
    Hispanic
  • The proportion of white and female involvement is
    increasing
  • Recently, gangs have begun to reflect Central and
    South American, Asian, and Jamaican populations
  • The vast majority of members are male (90)

7
Offender Characteristics(continued)
  • 71 of members are age 15 to 24
  • 16 are under 15 years of age
  • Only 13 are over 24 years old

8
Offender CharacteristicsBy Race
  • Hispanic 44
  • African American 35
  • Caucasian 14
  • Asian 5

9
The Making of a Gang Member
  • One study showed that every gang leader had left
    school prematurely and most were expelled for
    assaultive behavior
  • In most large cities, gang membership is
    multigenerational
  • Father was a gang member
  • Older brother is a member

10
The Making of a Gang Member (continued)
  • There is also informal social and family
    recruitment that is reinforced through
    incarceration in local jails or prison
  • Intimidation plays a role in 20 of gang
    recruitment
  • Most gang affiliation is through
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Drug-dealing activities

11
Female Gang Members
  • Females may be found as auxiliary branch members
    of exclusive male gangs
  • They may form fully autonomous organizations
  • Surveys indicate that at least 100 girl gangs are
    operating in the U.S.
  • Females compromise 10 of gang membership
  • There are an estimated 84,000 girls in gangs

12
Female Gang Members (continued)
  • Female gangs are typically structured to resemble
    male groups with similar
  • Initiations
  • Meetings
  • Associated criminality
  • Female gang members appear to have three
    behavioral constants in their backgrounds
  • Early sexual activity
  • Delinquency
  • Strong susceptibility to peer pressure

13
Four Elements of Social Hierarchy Found in Gangs
  • Founding members
  • Referred to as original gangsters
  • Are held in high esteem
  • Hard-core members
  • Generally, these members are 16 ? 24 years of age
  • Totally dedicated to the gang
  • New members
  • Referred to commonly as baby gangsters
  • Range in age from 12 to 16 years old
  • Street lookouts
  • Known sometimes as tiny gangsters

14
Gang Crime Patterns
  • Homicides and other violent crimes account for
    nearly 50 of all recorded gang-related crime
    incidents
  • Other common crimes include
  • Narcotics
  • Shootings
  • Assaults and robbery
  • Extortion
  • Terrorizing entire neighborhoods

15
Gangs and Drug Dealing
  • Approximately 10 of gang-related crime is
    dedicated to drug dealing
  • A distinguishing characteristic of gangs is the
    using and selling of crack cocaine and
    methamphetamine
  • At least half of all crack cocaine sold in the
    U.S. is trafficked by gangs
  • Youth gangs also distribute large quantities of
    meth and other drugs as well
  • 56 of all arrests involving Chicagos oldest
    African-American street gangthe Vice Lordsare
    for drug dealing or possession
  • As gangs distribute more narcotics, they approach
    the distinction of being termed an organized
    crime group

16
Gangs and Homicide
  • DOJ estimates that nearly 1,100 gang-related
    killings occur each year
  • One of every 21 homicide victimizations is gang
    related
  • The new street gang is far more focused on deadly
    violence
  • Homicides are often committed using the drive-by
  • Gang retaliations are a common motive
  • Higher homicide rates are attributed to
  • Drug dealing
  • More lethal weaponry
  • Frequent drive-by homicides

17
Gangs and Associated Violence
  • Gangs are responsible for expressive violence
  • Destructive behavior
  • No practical purpose (it is violence for the sake
    of violence)
  • Random beatings
  • Arson
  • Auto theft
  • Frequent use of firearms

18
Gang Graffiti
  • Gangs create staggering amounts of graffiti
  • Made by taggers or tagging crews
  • High-tech tagging is rapidly spreading

19
Investigative Procedures
  • There are two basic investigative responses to
    gang crime
  • Reactive ? investigated after the crime has been
    committed
  • Traditional investigations
  • Proactive ? the attempt to interrupt crime prior
    to it being consummated
  • Undercover operations
  • Using informants
  • Community policing strategies
  • Criminal activity needs to be sorted into
    gang-related and non-gang-related activity by law
    enforcement in order to determine the correct
    investigative strategy

20
Determining if an Incident is Gang-RelatedEight
Criteria
  1. IdentificationCrimes that stem from the
    significance a gang places on certain symbols
    (hand signs, language, graffiti)
  2. RecruitmentOffenses related to recruiting gang
    members
  3. ExtortionEfforts to exact payments
  4. Territory violationsCrimes committed to guard a
    gangs turf or to disrespect anothers territory

21
Determining if an Incident is Gang-RelatedEight
Criteria (continued)
  1. PrestigeCrimes committed either to glorify the
    gang or to gain rank or peer status
  2. Internal conflictOffenses that result from
    internal conflicts or power struggles
  3. ViceOffenses typically involving the
    distribution of drugs (cocaine, crack, meth, PCP,
    or heroin), gambling, or prostitution
  4. RetaliationCriminal acts of revenge for real or
    imagined insults

22
Three Types of Gang-Infested High-Crime
Neighborhoods
  • Turf hot spots
  • Neighborhoods in which fights frequently occur
    over territorial boundaries
  • Intergang rivalries exist for territory
  • Drug hot spots
  • Areas in which gang-motivated drug crimes
    predominate
  • Assaults and homicides related to narcotic deals
    are common
  • There is heavy traffic from outside the
    neighborhood
  • Combination neighborhoods
  • Gang-motivated crime often includes both turf and
    drug criminality

23
Neighborhood Classifications and Investigative
Strategy
  • First, investigators must classify the
    neighborhood
  • Depending upon the classification, different
    strategies can be employed
  • Turf hot spots require officers to conduct
    frequent field interviews to located concealed
    weapons ? the stop and frisk is effective
  • Drug hot spots require standard anti-drug
    investigation tactics (informants, UC buys, and
    buy busts)
  • Combination areas require a combination of
    investigative activity

24
Investigative Procedures Gang Units
  • Comprised of volunteer officers
  • Receive special training
  • Gang recognition
  • Graffiti reading/interpretation
  • Hand signs
  • Clothing
  • Team up with specially-assigned prosecuting
    attorneys to handle gang cases

25
Gang Crime Investigative Procedures Using
Computers
  • Computer programs are used to track gangs
  • Computers are designed to search for and identify
    gang members and gang crimes
  • Computers use partial identifies such as
  • Nicknames
  • Gang tattoos
  • Aliases
  • Dates of birth
  • Residences
  • Scars
  • Probation/parole status

26
Prosecution Issues Witness Reluctance
  • Often extraordinary measures are necessary to
    protect witnesses in gang cases
  • Threats and retaliation is a realitycausing fear
  • One survey showed that 90 of prosecutors in
    large cities and 74 in small jurisdictions
    agreed that obtaining the cooperation of victims
    and witnesses is one of their most significant
    problems
  • Another complicating factor is that many victims
    and witnesses are gang members themselves

27
Review Questions
  1. How does the Chicago Police Department defines a
    street gang?
  2. List five offender characteristics of a youth
    gang member.
  3. According to one study, what is common to all
    gang leaders in terms of educational history?
  4. How many girl-gangs operate in the U.S.?
  5. What is the percentage of female gang membership
    compared to all gang members?
  6. Describe the social hierarchy found in gangs.
  7. Compare and contrast proactive and reactive
    investigative processes.
  8. Identify the eight criteria that helps to
    identify if a criminal incident is gang-related.
  9. Describe the three types of gang neighborhoods.
  10. Why are victims and witnesses of crime
    (especially gang-related) reluctant to cooperate
    with police and prosecutors?

28
Student Questions
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