LPD Strategy for Gang Activity
What constitutes a gang?
Gangs are identified by the Lincoln Police
Department as an ongoing organization,
association or group of three or more persons
who share a common sense of identity, which
exists in part for the purpose of committing
Gangs do not have organizational charts,
officers, bylaws, and certificates of member-
ship. A gang is not momentary, but exists over
a considerable time. An important defining
characteristic of a gang is a common sense of
identity shared by members. The existence of
a criminal purpose is the predominant factor
which distinguishes a gang from all other kinds
of associations and organizations.
How do we protect our neighborhood?
The emergence of widespread gang activity
can destroy the quality of neighborhood life.
Gang infestation may cause certain neighbor-
hoods to deteriorate physically and socially.
The process often begins with minor evidence
of disorder. Accumulating litter, public
consumption of alcohol, rowdy groups of
individuals, and acts of vandalism may lead to
greater disorder, increasing crime, declining
property values and vacated buildings. The
police and area residents must work in
conjunction with one another to maintain the
integrity of the neighborhood. Active
maintenance of the neighborhood, the use of
crime prevention techniques and devices, and
consistent reporting of suspected criminal
behavior to the police will help deter gang
Whose problem is gang activity?
Gang activity is a widespread cultural
phenomenon that negatively affects our
society in many ways. Neither the police nor
the community can solve the problem without
the cooperation of each other. It is important
for all members of the community including
all organizations and institutions to assume a
sense of shared responsibility to prevent gangs
and gang activity.
How can gang involvement be reduced or prevented?
The best protection program against gang
involvement begins with a loving, supportive
family. Youths who have been abused,
neglected, or witnessed domestic violence in
the home may at greater risk for involvement in gangs.
A wide range of readily available, productive,
and fun activities for kids reduces the likelihood
of recruitment into gang life. Activities
which keep kids occupied while providing
opportunities for a sense of belonging,
positive feelings of accomplishment, and self
worth are a vital part of gang prevention.
What are signs of gang activity?
Graffiti is the daily news of gangs where
challenges are made and accepted, territory is
marked, and gang life is glorified. Graffiti is
criminal behavior, not harmless street art. Not
all graffiti is a product of gang activity, however
the presence of graffiti creates public
fear. If left unchecked, graffiti will spread.
Graffiti must be removed as soon as it is
There is a close connection between gangs
and drugs. Many street gangs participate in
the illegal distribution of drugs as their most
profitable criminal activity. Citizens of our
community can assist the police in fighting
drug trafficking by reporting suspicious
activity and suspected drug transactions.
Citizens may remain anonymous if they so
Why do youths join gangs?
For security (due to fear and intimidation)
Authority over others.
Family members belong to gangs.
Easy way to make money.
Gets people's attention.
Availability of role models.
It's fun and it's exciting.
Youths with major needs in his or her life such
as a positive male role model, the need for
acceptance and approval, attention, and the
need to have power and respect are
considered high risk for gang involvement.
What pre-gang behavior should a parent watch for?
Have your elementary and middle school aged youths changed friends
Who are these new friends?
What are youths doing in their free time and who are they with?
Is there an attitude change-disinterest in family activities and
Have they suddenly acquired a "bullying" or hostile attitude?
Have they become more solitary, spending more time alone when at home?
Trouble at home, not getting along with family (intolerant and
Poor school achievement and truancy?
What about their behavior at school? Have they been in trouble or
Have they been in trouble with the police?
Are they wearing the same color pattern daily?
Dressing in clothing endorsed by professional athletic teams-for
example, the Raiders, the Bulls?
Wearing on their heads, or attached to clothing, bandannas of red,
blue, yellow, green, or purple?
Is hair being worn in braids and decorated with colored barrettes or
Graffiti on school books or in their room?
Hanging around with youths wearing their hats turned to one side or
Is there evidence of writing with the letters "B" or "C" crossed out?
Presence of pagers, beepers, or cellular phones.
Is there a display of hand signs between the youths?
A display of one or two of the listed behaviors
may simply be a part of adolescent
development. Participation in several of these
behaviors may indicate pre-gang or gang
Talk to your children and ask questions. Be
aware of what items they are bringing home,
what they are wearing, and who their
associates are. Question the-significance of
particular items, graffiti, and colors if observed.
Remain actively involved in your child's life.
Above all, seek help for your child if you
suspect gang involvement.
Gangs are frequently violent, criminal, and
dangerous. Gangs are a dead end for
everyone. We can best fight the war against
gangs through the timely reporting of suspected
gang activity, the removal of graffiti,
aggressive law enforcement, and by providing
positive alternatives to gangs for our youth.