U.S. flag

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

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Expand the Use of Police Gang Units

NCJ Number
Criminology & Public Policy Volume: 6 Issue: 4 Dated: November 2007 Pages: 729-734
Scott H. Decker
Date Published
November 2007
6 pages
This paper proposes that police departments establish gang units that have both strategic and tactical functions that incorporate the principles of community policing.
The seven principles of community policing are community interface, interorganizational links, workgroup facilitation, environmental scanning, problem orientation, area accountability, and strategic management. Although these seven principles are not inherently apparent for the effective operation of a police gang unit, the effectiveness of gang units requires that they have a strong interface with the communities in which gang members are recruited and where gangs operate. The significant community-based institutions with which gang units must interact are schools, community groups, neighborhood associations, and not-for-profit agencies. Gang units must also be linked to other units within the police department in order to share information that facilitates effective planning and operations. A gang unit is also in an ideal position to assess the risk for violence within neighborhood environments. The unit's familiarity with gang characteristics and gang behaviors as well as the environments in which they are most likely to gain recruits gives it a strategic position for identifying and assessing risk factors for violence. Gang units are most effective in addressing gang-related problems when they interact with community groups and other departmental groups in sharing information; identifying, analyzing, and prioritizing community problems; and cooperating in the planning and execution of comprehensive programs and activities designed to reduce the appeal and reduce the prevalence of gang membership. 11 references