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Policing Gangs in an Era of Community Policing (From Policing Gangs and Youth Violence, P 17-49, 2003, Scott H. Decker, ed. -- See NCJ-201783)

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2003
33 pages
This chapter examines the nature, characteristics, and scope of police gang-control efforts through an exploration of police gang units and their relationship to community policing.
The first section of the chapter discusses the establishment of police gang units, along with the theoretical and policy rationales for such units as well as explanations for their growth. The chapter's second section outlines the functions of gang units, including patterns of the specialization of their functions. The third section argues that gang units are typically loosely joined to the larger police organization; the consequences of this for gang units and the police organization are discussed. The fourth section of the chapter considers the nature and functions of gang units in the context of the requirements of community policing, with attention to the compatibility of gang units and community policing. The concluding section recommends ways to improve the performance of gang units through the application of contemporary models of community policing principles and practices. The authors recommend that before creating a gang unit, police agencies should determine the need for such a unit by examining the nature and extent of the gang problem in the agency's jurisdiction. This analysis will determine whether a gang unit is warranted, and if so, the functions of such a unit. Should a gang unit be established, the principles of community policing require that the unit be integrated with core policing duties, including patrol. Patrol officers' functions can yield valuable information for the gang unit and the overall gang-control effort. The gang unit, in turn, has much to contribute to the larger organization's efforts to practice community-oriented policing, since gang unit officers' knowledge of the distribution and practices of local gangs is an essential component in the scanning, analysis, and response stages of any problem solving process related to gang control. 1 table, 1 figure, 3 notes, and 58 references

Date Published: January 1, 2003