At our department, gang intelligence is one area that is continually evaluated and monitored. While Lincoln clearly does not have a level of gang-related crime approaching that of other similarly sized cities, a significant number of teenagers and young adults claim to belong to gangs. Those individuals have been identified through affiliations with other known gang members, while others readily admit to their involvement.
In 1996, the Lincoln Police Department first developed a gang strategy. We continue to revise and update those efforts. The Gang Strategy of Prevention & Response was last revised in 2014, with another revision planned for the near future. Through the years, our gang unit has seen many changes. In 2013, we increased the number of investigators and the entire unit shifted locations. When the gang unit was first established, local gangs had a strong connection with narcotic activity. It made the most sense to have the gang unit as an arm of the Lincoln/Lancaster County Narcotics Task Force. Since then, gang activity has grown more toward robberies, burglaries and felony assaults. Therefore, the gang unit now works directly within our Criminal Investigations Unit.
In addition, the Gang Unit is supported by a Gang Outreach Specialist. His primary responsibility is to coordinate the Operation Tipping Point. This program was created in 2014 as an outreach program for youth, ages eleven to fifteen, who exhibit at-risk behaviors consistent with current or potential gang affiliation.
Gang unit investigators know that they have a busy road ahead. It takes little time for gangs to gain a foothold in the community. We plan to continue to identify gang activity and manage it with prompt response and enforcement. Gang members need to know that their actions have consequences. Police do not own the problem and cannot solve the problem. We believe that it is crucial for the community of Lincoln to recognize a mutual responsibility shared by all citizens, all organizations, to prevent gangs and to respond to gang activity.
When gang activity is evident in a neighborhood, residents are understandably fearful, and alter their lifestyle as a result. Instead, we encourage citizens to actively surveil their neighborhoods - calling police about any suspected crime, gang activity, graffiti, or rumored conflicts.
Information may be submitted anonymously.