U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Gang Enforcement Problems and Strategies: National Survey Findings

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 1995
18 pages
Federally sponsored surveys of 149 police departments and 118 prosecutors' offices of jurisdictions greater than 250,000 and 73 prosecutors' offices of jurisdictions of 50,000 to 250,000 residents examined the problems and needs of law enforcement agencies and the strategies they use to combat gangs.
The questionnaire survey, which was sent in April 1992, was followed by a telephone survey that focused on cities with significant gang problems, with emphasis on police departments that have specialized gang units. Findings from the surveys suggest that police departments and prosecutors offices across the Nation have similar concerns and needs regarding the gang problem. Both agree that the presence of gangs is increasing, along with the amount of gang-related violence. Both groups consider drugs and violent crime as the primary gang crimes. Although both police and prosecutors generally agree that special units enhance the ability of agencies to suppress gangs, a greater proportion of police compared to prosecutors' offices have specialized gang units. Gangs are identified traditionally and currently as an outgrowth of community conditions and as a community problem. In the adjudication of cases, police and prosecutors alike consider victim and witness protection a major problem. Ninety percent of police departments report using confidential informants. The majority of police departments have their own automated gang data systems; only one-fifth of prosecutors' offices have such a system. Multijurisdictional gang task forces are used by 38 percent of police departments, and 66 percent of large and 35 percent of small-jurisdiction prosecutors offices report participating in specialized gang enforcement initiatives with other criminal justice agencies. 17 references and 8 data exhibits

Date Published: January 1, 1995