Relative to the Investigation of Gangs
Union Institute and University
Steve Mauser, M.S.
May 8, 2009
Current Issues Relative to the Investigation of Gangs
Through the years, there have been many approaches to the investigation of gangs in America. Some have been successful, others not so successful. Some of the strategies include education, information gathering, suppression, prevention and compilations of all of the above. Throughout history, we have been led to believe that “knowledge is power”. We, as law enforcement professionals have used this concept to attempt to educate school personnel, pupils, parents and the public about gangs. Police personnel have developed age-specific programs to educate the public about the harmful effects of gangs in our community, early warning signs of gang activity and involvement, as well as some strategies to use to resist gang influences. One program that has become an increasingly well-known police response to gangs is the Gang Resistance Education and Training (GREAT) program, which originated in 1991 in Phoenix, Arizona Muraskin & Roberts, p. 50). GREAT is an educational program that emphasizes the acquisition of information and skills needed to resist peer pressure and gang influences. This program is normally taught to middle school students in a nine-week curriculum. GREAT has become a nationally recognized program, where officers in over 45 states have received the training to facilitate such a program in their local schools. According to Muraskin & Roberts, evaluations of this program have returned with mixed results. Some of the studies have found that students reported lower levels of delinquency, impulsive behavior, risk-taking behavior, and approval of fighting as higher levels of self-esteem, parental monitoring and attachment, commitment to positive peers, and anti-gang attitudes. Another study showed...