By: Lou Savelli
Gang intelligence is the foundation of every gang case. Reports are the building blocks of the case structure. Each report, regardless of the type, will add another block of information to the overall case. While all reports can be useful, here are some of the most commonly utilized and valuable reports to document gang activity or compile information on a gang and its members:
Any report that can document a gang member’s actions, whereabouts, and associations can prove extremely useful in a gang investigation. For example, a violent street gang member we were attempting to tie into a conspiracy case was adamant he never drove a black Honda sedan like the vehicle used in a recent drive-by shooting in which four people were shot and two were killed. After a search of parking tickets around his residence, we determined the same type of vehicle was being tagged by the precinct summons officer. A careful check of the gang member’s driving record showed him being issued a red light ticket several months prior while driving a black Honda sedan.
Furthermore, the owner of the Honda was identified and placed in a photo array in front of witnesses to the shooting. While the witnesses could not identify our original target gang member, they did identify the owner of the car as the driver of the Honda on the day of the shooting. The driver, after being arrested, gave up our target gang member as the shooter.
Few effective gang cases, or other cases for that matter, were ever made without the use of paperwork. As tedious as it can be, paperwork is an investigator’s friend.
By: Lou Savelli
Gang Files must be working intelligence data files are files that can be carried around from place to place. They need to portable so they can be taken into a car for your unit’s members to view them and be able to identify gang members on the street or bring the photos to a victim’s house for viewing. Laptops and PDAs make this more possible than ever. Having a comprehensive database or file system will pay for itself in gang investigations over and over.
Data Files include, but are not limited to:
A Photo File should include clean, usable, legal photographs, similar in size, of any gang member you have come in contact with, heard about, or presently have documented. You should endeavor to obtain a photo of any gang member you presently do not have a photo of and obtaining it by any legitimate means. (seizure, surveillance, government agencies, etc)
An individual file is a file that maintains any pertinent information related to a particular gang member. This information can include witness statements, hearsay, any police reports, intelligence reports or notes taken by you or a fellow officer about the individual. This information will come in handy.
An associate file contains anyone’s information that associates with a gang or gang member within your jurisdiction. These associates may be able to provide, at a later date, pertinent information on one of your targets.
A rival file includes information on individuals and gangs at odds with your targeted gangs or gangsters (other gang member or victim). These individuals (rivals) may be able to provide information needed against your targets. Also, today’s victim is tomorrow’s perpetrator. Today’s victim is tomorrow’s witness for the prosecution.
Gang members will place their tag upon a wall while sending a derogatory or threatening message to an enemy or rival gang member. Most gang members and street people only know each other by nicknames. It is important to create a tag/nickname file and endeavor to match those names with the real (Government) names and appropriate gangs.
Updated Parole List
Up to date Parole lists will keep you abreast of which gang members are on Parole and susceptible to violation of Parole when they break the rules of their Parole. Also, Parolees and gang members on Parole, with the right circumstances, can become valuable informants.
Updated Probation List
Up to date Probation lists will keep you abreast of which gang members are on Probation and susceptible to violation of Probation when they break the rules of their Probation. Also, Probationers and gang members on Probation, with the right circumstances, can become valuable informants.
NOTE: In most jurisdictions, Parolees and/or Probationers cannot associate with gang members.
It is important to maintain information on vehicles used or owned by gang members since a vehicle description, license plate number or partial plate number may be mentioned in a drive by shooting or other crimes.
Surveillance conducted by you or your unit, as well as fellow officers (Field interviews, etc) must be documented since such information may connect your target to gang associations, crimes, and place (document) them in areas near a crime. Many of this information will come into play later on in your investigations.
Organization Charts w/ photos
Maintaining organization charts of your local gangs is important. They act as a guide to proper targeting of key figures in the gang. It is a great reference guide for other officers to understand the leaders and soldiers of the gang. It is important as a constant reminder of the gang members faces.
Gangs hang out in bars, schoolyards, nightclubs, buildings and street corners. These locations are prone to graffiti and other crime. Maintaining information on these hangouts will enable you to keep abreast of the gang’s influence on the location and may lead to positive interdiction against the gang and a wealth of other information.
Creating Set Books
Set books, which will include the photos of the gang members that hang out at a specific location should be Portable, Workable, and Accurate. The books, can be carried around from place to place, either in a photo book or electronic file on a laptop, CD, DVD, or PDA. They must be continually updated.
Gang Intelligence files will be used over and over again and will assist in solving a multitude of gang related crimes.
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