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Lincoln, Nebraska

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Gangs
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 crime.

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 activity.

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 observed.

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 choose.

Why do youths join gangs?

  • It's cool.
  • It's family.
  • Drugs.
  • For security (due to fear and intimidation)
  • Racial issues
  • Enhanced image.
  • Home problems.
  • Peer pressure.
  • Authority over others.
  • Family members belong to gangs.
  • Easy way to make money.
  • Gets people's attention.
  • Availability of role models.
  • Acceptance.
  • 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 suddenly?
  • 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 values?
  • 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 impatient)?
  • Poor school achievement and truancy?
  • What about their behavior at school? Have they been in trouble or truant lately?
  • 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 beads?
  • Graffiti on school books or in their room?
  • Hanging around with youths wearing their hats turned to one side or similar clothes?
  • 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 behavior.

    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.

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