Policing Gangs in Today's Society
Gang violence has posed a major problem for law enforcement in the last twenty years. Although overall homicide rates in the United States have declined between the 1980's and the 1990's, youth homicide rates, particularly incidents involving firearms have increased dramatically. In the past, the police would assign responsibility for gang control to units such as patrol, juvenile bureaus, community relations, investigations, and crime prevention (Policing Gangs and Youth Violence 2003, pg. 17). In the 1980's, many police departments established specialized units for gang control including what is known as the police gang unit. A police gang unit is a secondary or tertiary functional division within a police organization, which has at least one sworn officer whose sole function, is to engage in gang control efforts (Policing Gangs and Youth Violence, pg 17). Because of the rise and growth of gangs, law enforcement has shifted from traditional, to community and problem-oriented policing to address youth gang problems.
In this paper I plan to give a brief insight on how some law enforcement agencies are attempting to use community and problem-oriented policing to address youth gang problems. I will discuss the methods used by different cities in the U.S. to prevent and control crime, and the effectiveness of these methods.
In the city of Boston, gang violence sent the homicide rate skyrocketing particularly in the 1990's. Although gang violence was really exposed to the public eye in the 1980's, Boston officials didn't acknowledge gang violence at this time. As a result, youth homicides peaked at 73 in 1990, which is almost triple, the average. According to researchers, this sudden increase in Boston youth homicide was strongly associated with firearms. Researchers discovered that between 1988 and 1995, 74 percent of youth victims were killed with firearms. In...