GANG AWARENESS

MEMPHIS POLICE DEPARTMENT

ORGANIZED CRIME UNIT

LunaWeb, Inc.

Just take a look at graffiti around Memphis and you should have no doubt, gangs are here and they are making their presence known. Unfortunately, more times than not, gang graffiti is not merely writing on the wall. For many gangs and gang members this type of vandalism only serves as a reminder of more violent and heinous criminal acts they are capable of. It's a fact, gangs are here and the more we learn about them, the better we will be able to take preventive action to protect ourselves, our property, and more importantly, our children, against them.

HOW DID GANGS ORIGINATE IN MEMPHIS ?
More times than not, the emergence of gangs in Memphis can be linked to places like Los Angeles, Chicago and other large cities. Gang enhancement laws and pro-active police techniques are the main reasons gangs are branching out to other cities. The emergence of gangs has also been linked to problem youths from other cities being sent to Memphis to reside with relatives. As a result, these problem youths also bring with them old gang affiliations. They then recruit Memphis youths and they're off and running.

HOW IS A GANG STRUCTURED ?
For the most part, gang structure is fairly loose. Leadership is usually assumed by a member who demonstrates dominant control at any given time. Most times, members are males from 13 to 28 years old, but police are also seeing female subsets of existing Memphis gangs. Contrary to popular belief, gangs are not just restricted to youths from disadvantaged and low income areas, many middle and upper class youths are also involved in gang activity. In addition, gangs are not just comprised of African-American youths, gang members represent all racial and ethnic groups.

HOW DO THEY WORK ?
Gang members display recurring interaction. They hang out together. They then seek to engage in, and encourage, a growing cycle of criminal activity. Then, through names, symbols and leadership, they claim a specific territory or turf. Frequently, gang members seek confrontations with rivals. These confrontations can occur most anywhere - shopping malls, schools, entertainment facilities and other areas. And while violence is mostly what we hear about, property damage and vandalism to local property and businesses is also frequent.

HOW DO MEMPHIS GANGS DRESS ?
Gang members wear specific apparel to show gang affiliation or "colors". They dress in a basic style or color chosen by gang leaders. However, as pressure from police, school officials and parents increases, gang members may change their appearance to become less noticeable. Today, many members wear professional sports team jackets, caps and shirts, so identify- ing them is more difficult. Law enforcement officials now depend on other criteria and intelligence rather than clothing to identify gang members. In other words, don't let appearances fool you, clothes may make the man (or woman) but they don't necessarily identify who is in a gang and who isn't.

GANG GRAFFITI - WHAT DOES IT MEAN ?
Almost always, the first sign of gang activity is graffiti. In essence, it's the underground newspaper of gangs and it serves several basic purposes. It identifies the gang and their territory, graffiti serves as a warning and challenge to rival gangs. And it glorifies the gang in general. Graffiti can also point out which gangs are fighting with each other. It immortalizes deceased gang members and epitomizes leaders within each gang. Of course, all of this occurs at the cost of property values in both residential and business areas.

GANGS - WHAT’S THE BIG ATTRACTION
Young people get involved with gangs for a variety of reasons. Things like peer pressure, low self-esteem, excitement, status, attention, brotherhood and even intimidation by gang members all play a role in gang involvement. In addition, the economic profits from gang activities like drug trafficking, thefts and robberies also seem quite attractive to youths. In some instances, parents even support gang and drug activity as a means of providing for the entire family.

PREVENTION
Prevention will be designed to educate, inform and assist in recognizing hazards involved with gang activity. As increased peer and financial pressure occur, today's youths are being forced to make meaningful life choices.

In addition to current programs, new activities are needed to provide alternatives and create productive environments for positive personal growth.

INTERVENTION
As soon as a youth exhibits any gang behavior, parents must take steps to prevent further association with gangs. Once warning signs become evident, immediate intervention and counseling becomes necessary to prevent further participation. Effective programs must be available regardless of socioeconomic status.

The single most important step in intervention is prohibiting a youth's continued contact with negative influences. Help is available through numerous organizations. (Phone numbers for helpful organizations are listed on the back.)

SUPPRESSION
The Memphis Police Department has a suppression program that is an on-going process. Any success in prevention and intervention strategies will not diminish efforts to identify, arrest and prosecute gang members.

The Memphis Police Department has developed a PARENT NOTIFICATION LETTER to inform parents when youths have met criteria that suggest gang association or membership. Officers will emphasize the importance of immediate intervention.

GANG MEMBERS - HOW DO YOU IDENTIFY THEM ?
It's not that simple. Some are easily spotted by tattoos or clothing styles. Their personal belongings may be covered with gang names or symbols. And, of course, anyone who is often seen with known gang members or has a record of gang-related arrests is certainly not above suspicion. In addition, members can be seen flashing hand signs or signals which are used to identify their specific affiliation or to issue a challenge to rival gang members.

GANG PRESENCE IN MEMPHIS
The Memphis Police Department's Gang Response and Intervention Team (G.R.I.T.) is presently conducting a thorough and comprehensive intelligence program. During the course of their research, G.R.I.T. has identified a number of gangs and gang-related activity in the Memphis area.

As the Memphis police Department continually pursues established gangs, the gangs will undoubtedly continue to relocate to areas previously unaffected. It is clear that gang and drug presence is a community problem not limited to any one area or population in Memphis.

The number of reported gang/drug-related crimes continues to rise. During the summer, with an increase of idle time, gang activity increases.

The City of Memphis is only one city, among a number of cities nationwide, witnessing the emerging presence of gangs. Fortunately, our community and civic leaders are cooperating with other agencies and organizations to create a plan to deal with this problem.

The Memphis Police Department is reviewing policies and programs to assess their effectiveness in responding to any potential gang situations. The department is playing a leading role in educating the entire community about the gang issue. To address the gang problem in the Memphis area a multifaceted approach is needed, utilizing all segments of the community (example: educators, parents, law enforcement, clergy, judicial system and social service agencies). The department is also addressing the gang problem by pro-active enforcement, street-level enforcement and gathering criminal intelligence. It is imperative that agencies share information and collaborate in order to combat gang problems. Information from the public is also necessary to achieve our goals of developing strategies that balance prevention, intervention and suppression.

PUBLIC PARTICIPATION

I. Attend police community relations and neighborhood meetings.

II. Discuss gangs with your children.

Many parents are unaware that their children are involved in gang activity. It is your role to help them understand the realities of a criminal record. They need to know the finality of death, which so often is the result of gang violence. Parents should encourage children to identify and report other youth who are pressuring them to use or deal drugs or participate in gang activities. Intimidation and fear can preoccupy and destroy a child's ability to concentrate on schooling and pursue a meaningful life.

III. Look for warning signs in your child.

IV. Positive steps that parents can take to prevent gang involvement by their children

V. Encourage immediate graffiti removal.

Because graffiti is the most visible sign of gang presence, it is imperative that it be removed immediately.

VI. Provide information to the Memphis Police Department regarding gang activity.

The Memphis Police Department has a Gang Hotline number where you can anonymously leave information. Call 527-GANG or 527-4264.

QUICK REFERENCE OF USEFUL NUMBERS
EMERGENCY- POLICE, FIRE, AMBULANCE 911
MEMPHIS POLICE DEPARTMENT 528 - 2222
MEMPHIS FIRE DEPARTMENT 458 - 3311
SHELBY CO. SHERIFF'S DEFT 576 - 2627
CRIME PREVENTION 576 - 5555
SCHOOL SECURITY, M.P.D 325 - 5779
CRIME PREVENTION, M.P.D 528 - 2192
MEMPHIS LIGHT, GAS E WATER 544 - 6500
ORGANIZED CRIME UNIT 528 - 2338
M.P.D. GANG HOTLINE 527 - 4264
M.P.D. DRUG HOTLINE 525 - 3673
M.P.D. SEX CRIMESIJUVENILE ABUSE 576 - 5330
JUVENILE COURT 528 - 8400
CRISIS HOTLINES
CRISIS CENTER 274 - 7477
EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT SERVICES 523 - 1313
SALVATION ARMY 526 - 1066
SHELBY CO. COMMUNITY SERVICES AGENCY 278 - 3893
LEGAL INFORMATION
LAWYER REFERRAL SERVICE 527 - 6002
MEMPHIS AREA LEGAL SERVICES 523 - 8822
MEMPHIS SHELBY COUNTY BAR ASSOCIATION 527 - 3573
EDUCATION
LITERACY COUNCIL 327 - 6000
MEMPHIS AREA VOCATIONAL TECHNICAL SCHOOL 527 - 8455
HEALTH
AIDS HOTLINE 576 - 7575
AMERICAN RED CROSS 726 - 1690
BABYLOVE 722 - 7860
BETHANY HOME 525 - 1837
BIRTHRIGHT OF MEMPHIS, INC 327 - 8109
CHURCH HEALTH CENTER 272 - 0003
GRACE HOUSE OF MEMPHIS 722 - 8460
HEALTH DEPARTMENT, CLINICAL SERVICES 528 - 7551
LES PASSES CHILDREN'S REHABILITATION CENTER 529 - 0233
MEDICAID 1800-543 - 7398
MEDICARE 1800-722 - 1413
MEMPHIS ALCOHOL AND DRUG COUNCIL, INC 274 - 0056
MEMPHIS CENTER FOR REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH 274 - 3550
MEMPHIS JEWISH HOME 758 - 0036
MEMPHIS PLANNED PARENTHOOD 725 - 1717
ST. FRANCIS HOSPITAL BABY-LINE 765 - 1MOM
HOUSING INFORMATION
COUNTY TRUSTEE 576 - 4420
HOME WEATHERIZATION 576 - 4523
HOUSING AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT 576 - 7330
HABITAT FOR HUMANITY 761 - 4771
MAYOR'S OFFICE ON AGING 525 - 2273
MEMPHIS HOUSING AUTHORITY 578 - 4100
COMMUNITY SERVICES
ASSOCIATED CATHOLIC CHARITIES 722 - 4777
THE CENTER FOR NEIGHBORHOODS 526 - 6627
FREE THE CHILDREN 276 - 0843
DAY CENTER 525 - 8626
CITY COUNCIL 576 - 6786
MEMPHIS AREA NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH 726 - 6912
MIFA 527 - 0208
SHELBY COUNTY COMMUNITY SERVICES ACENCY 278 - 3893
EMPLOYMENT INFORMATION / REFERAL & JOB TRAINING
CAREER SEARCH (STATE TECH) 377 - 4173
EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY COMMISSION 722 - 2617
NAACP 521 - 1343
OPERATION PUSH 946 - 5272
PRIVATE INDUSTRY COUNCIL 576 - 6536
TENNESSEE DEPT.OF EMPLOYMENT SECURITY 543 - 7849
UNITED METHODIST NEIGHBORHOOD CENTERS 323 - 4493
URBAN LEACUE 327 - 3591
DAY CARE / CHILDREN'S SERVICES
BIG BROTHER/BIG SISTERS OF CREATER MEMPHIS 327 - 4279
BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA 327 - 4193
BOYS CLUB OF MEMPHIS, INC 278 - 2947
COMM.OF MISSING AND EXPLOITED CHILDREN 528 - 8441
DENEUVILLE HEIGHTS 357 - 7316
THE FAMILY LINK 725 - 6911
FUND FOR NEEDY SCHOOL CHILDREN 576 - 6600
MEMPHIS POLICE DEPT., MIDNIGHT BASKETBALL 528 - 2192
OF-ACT, INC 526 - 7513
PORTER-LEATH CHILDREN'S CENTER 577 - 2500
YMCA 458 - 3580
YOUTH SERVICES OF MEMPHIS, INC 452 - 5600
YWCA 323 - 2211

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