By: Lou Savelli
Gang Investigation 101 can be defined as a combination of enforcement and investigation fundamentals coupled with anti-gang basics needed to conduct proper investigations against gangs. The gang officer no longer has the luxury of only identifying gang graffiti and throwing thugs up against the wall, he has to be able to enforce every law of the street, a few traffic laws, and be able to investigate any crime committed by the gangs in his or her jurisdiction. Today, that’s Gangs 101. In my opinion, we need to take it one step further. We need to be more aggressive and be proactive in our enforcement and investigative efforts against gangs. Proactive investigations, by far, are more successful than any other type of investigation.
Gang Investigation 101 combines a multitude of tasks and abilities necessary for today’s gang investigator to be successful. These abilities include:
Gang investigation is not as simplistic as other investigations because gangs involve many members and a constant source of recruits. Every gang investigation must be multifaceted and consider a variety of resources and disciplines to be successful. With the increasing popularity of ‘gangsters’ in the media, all law enforcement agencies must endeavor to combat gangs proactively.
Staffing Tomorrow's Gang Enforcement Units
Gang Enforcement Unit's will one day face a criminal and/or domestic terrorist that has endured a much more rigorous and intense selection and training process than our own personnel. For this and several other reasons, the selection process and training standards of your Gang Enforcement Professionals must keep the highest of standards; pure from politics and social experimentation. The success of reducing gang violence will hinge on the cohesiveness and highly trained anti-gang and gang reduction element that have such standards in place.
Maintaining high standards in the selection process and training requirements will help ensure the success and safety of both the public at large and your gang enforcement personnel. Anything less, places the agency in a highly liable situation.
Furthermore, agency management who attempt to artificially create equality at all costs is also a liability and will destroy unit cohesion and effectiveness. Although having a diverse unit has its benefits; such as investigating gangs with racist ideologies, the staffing of a Gang Enforcement Unit should never be about balancing the personnel staffing numbers but instead recruiting and selecting the most qualified – the most committed – the most interested to be entrusted with this duty. Being charged with going after the most violent of criminals is not a social experiment, nor should it be treated as one.
Why become a Gang Enforcement Professional?
What motivates someone to become a Gang Enforcement Professional? First, it gives officers who want to “serve and protect” at a higher level, a place to do so. These officers seek to take the most violent segment of our society off the streets and locked up keeping them from recruiting and killing our kids – one child at a time. Further, they want to serve with highly motivated individuals, who seek a higher level of training and individual proficiency in their profession.
The desire to become a member of the Gang Unit must be matched by persistence and dedication to a team concept. The following is presented as a snapshot of just some of the criteria and methods units use to select new gang enforcement professionals.
Criteria and selection methods differ from agency to agency, and whether the agency has a full-time or part-time Gang Unit.
Gang Enforcement Unit Selection Standards We seem to either not have a selection criteria at all or we attempt to apply irrelevant social standards to our gang unit selection criteria.
Personal Qualities Gang enforcement is specialized work and calls for specialized individuals. Gang Enforcement Professionals must exhibit many good qualities and be mentally and physically competent. Only serious individuals need to be associated with gang enforcement. The purpose of being a gang unit member is not to simply advance ones “internal-political” career or play dress-up and wear cool looking gear.
In fact, this is the last reason(s) for you to want to be in a gang unit. If this is what you want, there is no need to apply. While there are no absolute guidelines for selecting personnel for gang enforcement, strength and fitness is only a part of what makes up a good Gang Enforcement Professional.
Gang Enforcement Personnel should have a demonstrated history of the following:
Gang Units are normally considered a specialized assignment, and therefore should be a tested position. Units should test new candidates on their physical fitness, mental stability, and suitability to the unit. Some units may require a written commitment to this assignment due to the ever-changing work schedules, perpetual on-call work status, not to mention the time and money spent in the basic training of a new gang enforcement professional. A standard selection process is less effective, less efficient and more costly to the agency in the long run.
The following is a basic guideline of some of the testing procedures and requirements which should be considered for staffing a Gang Unit.
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