Gang Violence In The United States

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Gang violence is defined as “many people as the criminal and non-political acts of violence committed by a group of people who regularly engage in criminal activity against innocent people. The term may also refer to physical hostile interactions between two or more gangs.” (Legal, n.d.) New York City is essentially where gangs started in the 19th century. Gangs at time hit poor communities in New York City, like a community called Five Points. This neighborhood provided gangs with an ethnic background such as, Irish, Polish or Italian. Three larger gangs in the area, The Forty Thieves, Shirt Tails and Plug Uglies fought for years over territory, they mugged and robbed people and sometimes they had to unite to fight against other gangs from different areas. Through the 1950s and 1960s, a lot of gangs were only in larger cities, if highways were connected to these larger cities gangs also started to appear in more suburban areas. Gang violence has increased over the years especially in the 20th century, by this time gangs of European decent disappeared, or aren’t active anymore, Most gangs today consist of African Americans or Hispanic members. Between the years of 1970’s and 1980s, drugs became bigger in gangs and firearms became more easier to buy illegally. This firearms and drug combo is what made gangs even more violent.

Two of the most famous rivalry within gangs in American are known as the Bloods and Crips. This started in the 1960’s when two young men Sylvester Scott and Benson Owens got attacked by two Crips, after the attack the two men set up a gang called the Piru Street Boys which is another name for Bloods. This gang was at first just formed to protect people against the Crips and eventually the gang grew with more people who felt victimized by Crips. The Crips were first founded in Los Angeles in 1969 by two men, Raymond Washington and Stanley Williams (the two who jumped Scott and Owens, starting the bloods). 10 Years after the founding of the Crips Washington was shot 4 times (believed to be by a blood) and died. Also, in that year Williams was convicted of 4 murders and he was given a death sentence and died in 2005 from lethal injection at 51. Today there are estimated to be about 30,000-55,000 Crips and 25,000 Bloods. Both gangs being one of the largest in the world.

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While gang violence has been a problem in the United States for year, and only seems prominent in bigger cities its everywhere in everyone’s community. In Louisville, Kentucky gang violence has become a huge problem. In Louisville, there has been several shootings causing people to worry about the violence in their communities. Some people in the community believe that this is nothing new, and violence is as bad as it has ever been in Louisville. A special agent from the FBI named James Brown says that he does not believe that there is a uproar in violence with these murders. “I don't think there is any reason to fear as a result of the recent high profile shootings that we've had. But there is no acceptable level of violent crime, A lot of the shootings are retaliation-based. They're territorial, which is indicative of gang violence. One gang in one part of the city is protecting their territory from a gang in another part of the city. Most of that is what we refer to as 'hybrid gangs'. In essence they're protecting their drug-trafficking areas.” Said Brown

In Louisville, there are 25 active gangs, these gangs aren’t known like Crips and bloods on a national or international level or tied up in higher organizations, but more local gangs. A lot of the shootings that are occurring is over territory which in the FBI’s eyes says that it is gang related. They refer this fight drug over territory with hybrid gangs “Hybrid gangs are new youth gangs engaged in illegal activities. Such gangs are found throughout the U.S. Traditional gangs were usually formed along race, ethnicity and cultural lines, and had structural hierarchy and code of discipline/conduct.” (Whas11). The FBI also believes that a lot of the gangs in Louisville are getting their drugs from the cartel, so in hindsight making aa stop to these highly structured organizations like the cartel can stop it from getting into smaller cities and across boarders. LMPD says that a lot of the shooters from the murders are juveniles, probably making their mark or that was there test to get into a certain gang. To bring down these numbers on gang violence in the city Kentucky has created a model called Kentucky Safe Streets Gang Task Force. The Louisville Metro Intel Task Force includes LMPD, the Kentucky State Police, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the FBI. Basically, including every agency in the area to be included on this Task force that can bring their intel to the table and the agencies can work together for the greater good of Louisville. This task force is using a intel based approach. A lot of FBI techniques are being used to bring down the level of gang violence like Wire taps, drug buys, social media exploitation, undercover operations with these techniques the goal is not only to bring down the violence but to also use if for crimes that can be tried for federal prosecution, these techniques have helped in Louisville both on a street level and cartel. While these approach’s are somewhat helping violent crime in the city, special agent Brown says that it wont help it all, so he suggest the “see something, say something approach.” It is going to require a community effort. We need the help of community leaders in reducing violent crime. We need private citizens coming forward to help reduce violent crime by providing tips, and it takes a concerted effort on federal, state and local law enforcement says Brown.

Community Policing is a reform model for police officers so that officers become more familiar with a certain area and make people in those communities feel safer. The two main concepts of community policing’s are Community partnerships and problem solving. Community partnerships are engagement by the police with the community to collectively respond to community problems. Problem solving is when police attempt to deal with causes of crime not just the symptoms and they focus on conditions that negatively impact the quality of life in communities.

Gang violence today and for decades has been a problem across the United States. In Louisville, its been a huge problem too with LMPD’s Chief of police Steve Conrad saying in relation to the horrendous gang violence going in the city that “Everyone looks to us to fix it -- this is a community problem. It’s the entire community getting involved if we’re ever going to see any kind of a change.” (Taylor, 2019) Conrad says that while guns and drug bust play a large part of cracking down on gangs, none of that will happen if people who live in communities that are victims of this gang violence come forward and help out the police.

Along with the community stepping up and helping the police, another strategy I think that will help put a stop to gun violence is implementing task force against gun violence into elementary, middle and high schools. “There are over one million juvenile gang members in the U.S., more than three times the number estimated by law enforcement, according to a recent study”. (University, 2015) A lot of people might think gang related task forces in elementary schools are excessive but there are juveniles in gangs that are 5 to 17 years old. Studies also show that gangs have a very high turnover rate at 36% with 400,000 people joining every year and a little under 400,000 people getting out a year, meaning that they have to recruit new gang members every year. So, implementing task force gangs in these schools will be very effective in the schools, something similar to the DARE program, which does somewhat have to do with gangs but more on the drugs side. With this program, parents can put their kids into it. police officers could be the one who run these programs and come in schools and get one on one with these kids to prevent violence. As a member of the program you must keep up certain grades, there can be field trips, and even talking to past gang members about their life and what they wish they could have done different as a child to in a way “scare” them away from that life. We can start this locally in Louisville, then maybe different counties will adopt this program and it can help effect the youth and all gangs as whole. I think my strategy would help the community and the youth as a whole. While, gang violence is still a problem beyond juveniles, if we catch these trouble youth at a young age it will have an incredible impact on all gangs, most troubled youth start the bad behavior very young and it follows them though their adult life, if some kind of change isn’t made. This program will make that change.

In conclusion, Gang violence has been a problem in the United States starting in the 1950’s and is still a problem today in our local community in Louisville. It’s been proven that community policing impacts gang violence in a positive way with the police coming into a person’s community and becoming more familiar with it and the people inside of it and not just another officer Implementing my strategy in all public schools to deter kids from engaging in gang violence will bring down the numbers in Louisville and hopefully the United States, tremendously.

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Gang Violence In The United States. (2021, September 14). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 15, 2024, from
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