Community risk factors

Most suppression programs identify risk factors of gang-related activities. These may be divided into categories of individual, community and peer-group risk factors. Individual risk factors include aggression, illegal carrying of weapons, victimization of others, general delinquency, substance abuse or dealing. (Weisel & Painter, 1997) Community risk factors include availability and use of drugs in the neighborhood, neighborhood youth in trouble with police, and an unsafe feeling in the community. (Weisel & Painter, 1997) Peer risk factors include friends with gang affiliations. (Weisel & Painter, 1997)

One of the more successful programs has been the tri-agency resource gang enforcement (TARGET). (Weisel & Painter, 1997) Located in Southern California, this program has several elements that make it one of the more successful of the suppression of the problems of gang violence and drug trafficking. (Weisel & Painter, 1997) TARGET focuses its efforts on the most hardcore, violent, repeat criminal street gang offenders, especially gang leaders. (Weisel & Painter, 1997) The goal of TARGET is to incapacitate these gang members before they can commit further violent acts in the community.

(Weisel & Painter, 1997) Focusing on the most active hardcore gang offenders promises the greatest reduction in overall street gang violence. (Weisel & Painter, 1997) One of the newest innovations with this unit involves filing injunctions against gangs. The Orange County D. A. extensively uses the Street Terrorism Enforcement and Prevention Act, to prosecute gang members actively participating in criminal street gangs and seeks the stiffest possible penalties for crimes committed for the benefit of, associated with, or under the direction of criminal street gangs.

(Weisel & Painter, 1997) The D. A. ’s office brings a civil lawsuit against a particular gang in a particular neighborhood – suing each individual gang member. (Weisel & Painter, 1997) These injunctions serve several purposes: they make it hard for gang members to hang out with each other [and enforce curfew]; they afford members a way out of the gang; there is a significant reduction in crime; and, community members take back ownership of their neighborhoods. (Weisel & Painter, 1997)

The team for this task force consists of several members from different law-enforcement arms. Detectives from local law enforcement agencies identify individuals and areas to be targeted. (Weisel & Painter, 1997) Additionally, detectives coordinate investigation of all gang crimes committed by targeted gang members and assist in prosecution. (Weisel & Painter, 1997) The detective also is responsible for monitoring the identified gang members, conduct searches often with the probation officers, and arrest gang suspects.

(Weisel & Painter, 1997) Finally, the detectives are to coordinate maintenance of specialized gang files on targeted gang members and their associates in the gang. (Weisel & Painter, 1997) An assistant prosecutor or law director is also on the TARGET task force. (Weisel & Painter, 1997) This person’s role consists of several tasks. One of these is to review and file charges on all cases generated by the participants of the team, and to oversee all felony filings and normally appears in court and handles those cases generated. (Weisel & Painter, 1997)