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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 120504 Find in a Library
Title: New Investigative Approach to Youth Gangs
Journal: FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin  Volume:58  Issue:10  Dated:(October 1989)  Pages:20-24
Author(s): E Burns; T J Deakin
Date Published: 1989
Page Count: 5
Document: PDF
Type: Issue Overview
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Youth gangs in Baltimore, Maryland, are unique in their structure, objectives, and methods of operation and this, coupled with the increase in the drug problems, has made many standard investigative techniques ineffective.
Abstract: The Baltimore gangs are tightly bonded organizations controlled by a single, manipulative, egotistical personality who directs the hard core members to secure stash houses and recruit runners, lookouts, and other personnel. Drug profits are used to increase the gang's size and prominence, which it maintains through a systematic use of violence designed to stifle opposition and control a territory. The Baltimore police department stopped using conventional methods for dealing with youth gangs because of the massive influx of cocaine into the city in the early 1980s and the gang's resistance to encroachment. Individual crimes are not often successfully prosecuted because of the investigator's caseload and his inability to see the crime as part of a larger pattern. A new investigative approach has tried to develop conspiracy cases against whole gangs from evidence collected by turning the gang's violence inward toward vulnerable members. Creating the desired vulnerability is accomplished through controlled arrest situations, interviews of randomly arrested members, and use of the grand jury. The grand jury method adds tension by threatening perjury or contempt for noncompliance, juxtaposed with the promise of immunity. Investigators try to determine if a gang member really opposes the use of violence, and then they play on his self-interest and fears of prosecution. The success of this approach depends on understanding how members are bonded to a gang and finding those members who are caught between their desire to leave the gang and their fear of its violence. A specialized investigative unit should have the specific mission of attacking gangs using any type of violence, operate closely with the homicide unit, be aligned with a prosecution team, and have liaison with designated district or precinct units.
Main Term(s): Investigative techniques; Juvenile gang behavior patterns
Index Term(s): Drug law offenses; Maryland
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