Gang incidents are a common place element of urban life.
We read about them in the newspapers. We see them on television news
. We are numbed by the statistics. Ultimately, complacency sets in.
It is no longer shocking for a child or grandparent to become a statistic
as a result of another senseless drive-by shooting.
No one is surprised when an aspiring student or athlete falls prey to gang gunfire
and retribution in cases of mistaken identity. At some point
in time we are all directly or indirectly affected by gang
power and violence. Law-abiding citizens are forced to
travel alternate routes, or at a time of day they deem safe,
in order to avoid gang-infested areas. Children
refrain from buying athletic wear bearing the logo
of their favorite sports team for fear a gang member
will mistake them for a rival and shoot them down.
When we hesitate to get involved, our children become victims.
Gangs flourish and attain influence and presence when they are allowed
to conduct their illegal activities without police intervention
or surveillance. Organized gangs maintain a low profile in
high-profit drug areas. High profile only serves to attract
more law enforcement. Police experts agree that to
effectively control gang domination, the top leaders
must be targeted. The combined forces of federal,
state and local gang crime specialists focus on the
upper level gang leaders, and the uniformed and
tactical patrol officers monitor the lower level street activity
Gang activity continues unchecked in certain locales,
because police remain uninformed by the local citizenry
of an emerging problem. The most effective way for
communities to combat gangs is to adopt an
attitude of zero-tolerance. Communities must become
involved in order to control and eliminate the gang
problem. This involvement runs the gamut from neighborhood
watch programs to placing an anonymous call to report crime.
Repeated graffiti removal sends a message to the
gangs that they are not part of the community.
High profile community involvement, combined
with police intervention on a local and national level,
slows and deters gang crime activities. Eventually their
power will be broken - as we have witnessed in the
last few years with the slow disintegration of the El Rukns gang.