Gang Training: Why it is important!

Gang Training is a relative term. Because not all gang training or trainers are equal, the degree to which learning and knowledge actually provides a benefit to the students is questionable. Gang Training has truly sprung up everywhere. However, street gangs are a regional phenomenon at best. Quite the contrary to what the "experts" say national gangs do not truly influence local gang activity.  That is not to say that those gangs do not have a neighborhood impact, but to say a national gang is working for LA, Chicago or Texas is influencing what goes on in Nebraska is absurd  The local set, clique or group may be impacting it but truly not the national gangs. 

So why is Gang Training Important?
Dealing with gang members can occur on any shift at any time during your tour of duty. You could be handling a motor vehicle accident, investigating a retail theft or handling a domestic dispute. Encountering and recognizing a gang member can be the opportunity for an "aware" officer to solve other crimes at a later time. 

How the "aware" officer does this is through constantly updating and re-learning the gang issue. Gang activity is extremely fluid, it changes, morphs and adapts to activities that are presented in front of it much like a virus. Mutation is a given!

But we have a gang unit? 
Research conducted by numerous researchers points to several key points about gang unit's and their effectiveness. 
  • Many gang units tend to engage in "Buffet style policing", which means they accept only the high profile crimes such as drive by shootings, aggravated assaults and homicide. What happens within the subculture of the unit is that their becomes a shared belief about the local problem and what will work to deal with the problem. What lacks is a clear mission and direction to what the unit's goals should be.
  • Gang Unit's tend to be isolated from the department, the community and the citizens. 
  • Training was lacking. Most officers in gang unit's had little or no direct contact with gang members. On average they had 1 to 3 contacts per 8 hours worked. 
  • Gang Unit's did not understand the community their were trying to help. They did not seek input from community members, did not value information from non-criminal justice sources, and did not recognize value in sharing their own information. 
  • Perception within the department by non unit members included, a lack of knowledge over successful operations and actions. Officers did not believe that the gang units efforts were effective at reducing their gang problem. Gang unit's were isolated from general department staff.  

So what will work

Know your gang? If drive-bys and other acts of violence are initiated by younger more volatile members with poor impulse controls and a desire to “prove” themselves. Removing the leaders will do nothing to quell the violence. Balance your agencies activities of Suppression with Support Efforts. Looking for opportunities address youth who are gang involved to reduce gang problems in communities.

Specify the role of law enforcement by delineating which tactics support the initiative, whatever that initiative may be. Defining that for your entire agency is imperative!

Engage a broad range of stake holders
  • Schools
  • Social services providers
  • Grassroots community groups
  • To develop a gang policy
  • Collaborate with researchers on design and implementation. 

Focus efforts on reducing gang violence not eliminating gangs.
  • Collaborate with researchers on design, implementation and evaluation.
  • Keep focus on reducing gang violence rather than eliminating gangs.
  • Interventions methods involving Multisystemic therapy (MST).
  • Counseling, training to young people, families, and larger networks of people engaged in young people’s lives through schools and the community.
  • Primary Focus of law enforcement is immediate solutions to threats to public safety.
  • HHS agencies focus on Long-term solutions.

Regional Task Forces

Regional Task Forces have benefits beyond just dollars and sense. Punitive Responses to youth crime do not effectively increase public safety.
  • Street gangs are highly mobile They do not recognize community borders
  • Saves manpower from the street, 
  • Pooling resources increases your size and depth the unit.
  • Many agencies see some of the same players

Who should be in the the Task force? First off the task force should have multiple facets to it. Broken down into committees that are part of the whole but are tiered for security reasons. 
  • Surrounding police agencies.
  • Adult & Juvenile Probation/Parole Ofc.
  • Sheriff’s Department
  • HHS/Social Services/Gang Outreach
  • School Resource Officers
  • School Personnel (deans, principals)
  • Hospital Staff (ER Doctor/Nurse)
Technology: Utilize Technology to maximize effectiveness Officers utilize technology at a far greater pace then ever before.
  • Android, IPHONE and Tablets are more common.
  • Web-based applications or databases are currently available or accessible through a qualified programmer. Having th
  • Creating: email lists 
  • Pictures to be passed quickly
  • Camera phones are the standard as opposed to the exception.
  • Database capabilities
  • Access to State Law Enforcement Networks or NCIC

Work with Building or Community Development Department
  • Keep a list and pass those out to patrol
  • Exploring, developing and implementing crime free housing ordinances and notifying your community on utilizing them.
  • Youths, Gangs and prostitutes will utilize these locations if not monitored.
  • Notify the neighboring homes

Training Police Officers
  • Gang Awareness and Recognition
  • Domestic Violence 
  • Runaway Juveniles
  • Interviewing/Intervention training
  • Available local intervention services

Training of School Staff
  • Gang Awareness and Recognition
Training of Local Business Members: you may reap benefits through donations and other assistance.
  • Gang Awareness and Recognition
  • Basic Crime Prevention

Providing Patrol Officers with:
  • Detailed gang files including:
  • Vehicles information
  • License Status Information
  • Warrants and Wants
  • Affiliations and status.
  • Patrol Officers conduct the bulk of all early gang contacts.


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