Law enforcement is charged with the responsibility to make the citizens feel safe in the community. According to Roberts (2003), gangs have been growing at an alarming rate in America and for years, have terrorized and engaged in criminal activities that even cause death to other people. The war on gangs is by no means an easy feat because it is a process that requires cooperation between police agencies, members of the community and the availability of resources. Law enforcement came up with tactics that would help end gangs in the country.
Based on past successes, we should continue to rely on suppression tactics. These tactics have been deemed a success because of the instant results once applied. In order to curb violence, there has been heavy law enforcement presence in high incidence areas. For suppression to be effective, information of the youth gangs is gathered and organized together with their members. Police officers who are experienced and specifically trained to detect gang activities in various parts of the city are involved. We should continue to rely on such tactics because the police established forums also engage gang members positively mainly through talks and the community too.
Usually, the police are given day to day tasks involving investigation follow up of crimes, while recording the gang's histories for trial. Statistics on the location, type of crime and district of occurrence, are gathered and presented in a monthly report to the district commander (Roberts, 2003). Because these reports are given to the judge during the trial so they could understand the nature of gang affiliation before sentencing the tactic involves a lot of social programs. Hence, suppression has proven that having policies based on this precedent will lead to the abolishment of gangs in America.
The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act 1961, is regarded as one of the most effective tools in the fight against organized crime. High ranking criminals have been convicted successfully with the help of this Act, and have been used on youth gangs. It provides enhanced punishment for gang-related crimes against principles, together with their accomplices. This happens when for example, the gang leader would be arrested during a robbery and the rest of the members escape. This serves as a deterrence to all gang members because one can be convicted by association of other participants.
The California Street Terrorism, Enforcement, and Prevention (STEP) Act of 1988, has been a model used by 14 states including, Georgia, Florida, Illinois, Nevada, and Louisiana, that has a unique process that allows a person to be prosecuted under STEP (Gebo & Bond, 2012). Evidence on a gang is gathered by the prosecutors and police and then presented to the court. If the judge deems the evidence is substantive, a judicial order is given in writing to be given to the gang members informing them that the law enforcement is aware of their gang presence.
Penalties and prosecution proceeding can be brought upon them in case of crimes committed in their name under the Act. In 1991, a Youth Gang Reduction Act was enacted by the state of Washington, preventing secondary and elementary students from joining gangs. All these laws help in reducing gang activities and crimes but they seem to do little to tackle the underlying root causes of gang existence (Gebo & Bond, 2012).
Apart from the law enforcement agencies, what role can the civil society play in reducing the growth of Gangs in America?
Gebo, E., & Bond, B. J. (2012). Looking beyond suppression: Community strategies to reduce gang violence. Lanham [Md.: Lexington Books.
Roberts, A. R. (2003). Critical issues in crime and justice. Thousand Oaks Calif: Sage publications.
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