Project No Gangs
Project No Gangs Drug and gang related deaths in Orange county have been an escalating problem over the past decade. In 1987, Sheriff-Coroner Brad Gates founded Drug Use Is Life Abuse in order to monitor the affects of the drug problem and educate the citizens of Orange County. In 1992, with public concern regarding crime at an all time high, the law enforcement community embarked on a path to eliminate gangs and the violence they bring to our communities. With the support of the Chiefs’ and Sheriff’s Association, Project: No Gangs was formed with the goal of creating the same community awareness level and success we have experienced with Drug Use Is Life Abuse.
The Drug Use Is Life Abuse/Project: No Gangs strategic plan calls for approaching drug and gang awareness and prevention issues from four angles:
- Community Awareness
- Youth and Education
- General Public
Deputies from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department from Project: No Gangs speak to the community about drug and gang issues. information regarding the consequences of drug and gang involvement, ‘signs’ to look for, and drug use and gang violence prevention methods are provided.
Drug Use Is Life Abuse/Project: No Gangs has sponsored drug and gang education programs for elementary school children. Educational booklets geared toward youth have been created to supplement the current drug and gang school curriculum. Booklets currently available are Free From Drugs for kindergarten through third grade, Positively kNOw Drugs and Positively kNOw Violence for fourth through sixth grades. All booklets are available in both English and Spanish.
Gangs and gang crime have long been a major problem in our community. Law enforcement has an obligation to respond to this threat to public safety. It must do so on the basis of clear and legal grounds. The following information outlines these legal grounds, describes the anti-gang tools that have been developed, and gives the official definitions that are used when dealing with gangs.
What Is a Gang
What Gangs Do
Consequences of Gang Involvement
Why They Join Gangs
Identifying Gang Members
Cliques and Sets
Prevention…What you can do
Graffiti…The Danger of Writing
Who do you call for graffiti removal?
What Is a Gang
A street gang in Orange County is a group of individuals who may or may not claim control over a certain territory in the community; commit crime and other acts of violence; either individually or collectively. According to Penal Code Section 186.22(a), a gang member is:
Any person who actively participates in any criminal street gang with knowledge that its members engage in or have engaged in a pattern of criminal gang activity, and who willfully promotes, furthers, or assists in any felonious criminal conduct by members of that gang.
In other words, gang members are criminals whose actions range from drug dealing to drive-by shootings to murder. Gangs thrive on intimidation and notoriety. They find violence not only glamorous but necessary in establishing their gang as a gang to be feared.
What Gangs Do
Many gang activities are frequently shared by a large portion of society, except for an important difference: gang members seek confrontations with rivals. When gang members attend school, a family picnic, rock concert, neighborhood gathering or party, the potential for violence and criminal activity is far greater than for any other group of people. The violent acts, usually indiscriminate, often claim the lives of innocent victims.
Gang violence has a daily impact on our lives. Gangs sell drugs, extort businesses, burglarize homes, rob people, intimidate minorities, steal cars or commit other crimes for financial gain. Gangs intentionally vandalize and destroy public and private property in order to further promote their reputation, leaving graffiti as their trademark. Abandoned houses are a favorite target for graffiti, but even occupied houses and local businesses do not escape. The majority of residents in a gang area who are unable to more away, live in constant fear.
Consequences of Gang Involvement
Gang members cast a bleak future for themselves. Gang membership, although a temporary phase for some youths, severely harms their future. They socialize strictly with other gang members, reinforcing their limited view on life. Gang members frequently drop out of school. This severely limits their chances for a better life. Some gang members who make it to adulthood may develop patterns of alcohol and drug abuse. Often, the gang members acquire extensive police records, limiting their opportunity for employment, turning them to greater criminal enterprise. Ultimately some gang members are seriously injured or killed.
Why they join gangs
Children or teenagers join gangs for a variety or reasons: the excitement of gang activity, peer pressure, physical protection, attention, financial gain, a sense of belonging, and family tradition. In many cases, youths are not actively discouraged from gang involvement by their parents. Often parents are unaware that their children are engaged in gang activity.
Gangs generally identify themselves by a name derived from a street, neighborhood, or housing development where they are based, or from a rock band they like, or a cult they follow.
Gangs are predominately territorial. Each gang has its own turf and graffiti marks it s boundaries. Anyone not belonging in the area and who resembles any rival gang members may become the subject of attack.
Most gang members dress in the same manner. The uniform of some local gangs is easy to recognize. It includes white T-shirts, thin belts, baggy or sagging trousers, and a black or blue knit cap (beanie or a bandanna tied around the forehead similar to a sweatband). Gang members also like particular brands of shoes, pants or shirts. For example, some gangs like to wear plaid Pendleton shirts in either blue, brown, black, or red. These shirts are worn loose and un tucked. Also popular are the Doc Martin or military style boots with the military flight jackets.
Gang graffiti, symbols, messages or gang names can be written or embroidered on jackets, pants and ball caps. Other identifying items include belt buckles with the gang’s initials, key chains, or professional team jackets. Some gangs have changed their clothing style and no longer wear their colors in order to deceive law enforcement.
Identifying Gang Members
Most gang members are proud of their gang and freely admit their membership. Many have tattoos and dress in a style identifying their particular gang. Their personal property is frequently covered with graffiti, the gang’s logo, and the member’s gang name (moniker). Gang members throw signs with their fingers. This means they make gestures with their hands and fingers which identify their gang.
As with most groups, gangs rely upon both individual and group participation. Leadership in street gangs is usually not formally recognized. The person who is the toughest, possesses a gun, sells drugs or has the most money can become the leader, but this may be short-lived. With smaller gangs, however, it is more likely that a single individual will become a recognized leader.
Cliques and sets
Large gangs are sub-divided into sets or cliques. A clique or set will usually have its own name. Sets usually apply to black gangs and cliques to Hispanic gangs.
Individual gang members usually have a nickname or moniker that fits the individual’s physical, personal or psychological traits. A gang member called “Shorty,” for example, gets his name from his height.
Graffiti … The Danger of Writing
A problem that affects our neighborhoods in a variety of ways is GRAFFITI. Without a doubt, this type of vandalism decreases property values in residential neighborhoods and creates a sense of concern about community safety. Of greater concern than the property damage is the random violence associated with gang graffiti. Gang members use graffiti to mark their “turf” or territory, declare their own allegiance to the gang, advertise the gang’s status or power, and to challenge rivals.
When a neighborhood is marked with graffiti indicating territorial dominance, the entire area and its inhabitants become targets for violence. A rival gang identifies everyone in the neighborhood as a potential threat. Anyone on the street or in their home is a target for drive-by attacks by rival gang members. Unfortunately, innocent people are often subjected to gang violence by the mere presence of graffiti in their neighborhood. Victims of white supremacist or hate graffiti often suffer from fear and intimidation when they are singled out by the “skinhead” or other white-supremacist gangs.
Who to call in your area for graffiti removal.
Anaheim Police Dept. 254-5200
City of Laguna Niguel 362-4300
Brea Police Dept. 671-4465
La Habra Police Dept. 1-310-905-9723
Buena Park Police Dept. 821-8658
City of Lake Forest 707-5583
Cal Trans Graffiti 724-2500
La Palma Police Dept. 523-4552
Costa Mesa Police Dept. 548-4165
Los Alamitos Police Dept. 527-7775
Cypress Police Dept. 1-800-464-3727
City of Mission Viejo 582-7155
City of Dana Point 248-3573
Newport Beach P.D. 644-3333
City of Fullerton 738-3108
Orange Police Dept. 744-7279
Fountain Valley P.D. 965-4485
City of Placentia 993-8245
Housing and Redevelopment 568-4213
City of San Juan Capistrano 443-6363
Garden Grove P.D. 741-5381
City of San Clemente 361-8201
Huntington Beach P.D. 960-8861
Santa Ana Police Dept. 647-6714
Irvine Police Dept. 724-7196
Seal Beach Police Dept. 1-310-431-2527
Laguna Beach P.D. 497-0701
City of Tustin 573-3111
City of Laguna Hills 707-2688
Westminster Police Dept. 895-2876
Unincorporated Areas 834-3400
What can you do
Take Action! — Prevention is the key to controlling gang activity. Everyone must work toward solutions to the gang problem.
Become Informed — The first step in prevention is to learn about gangs, gang members and their activities. Citizens armed with basic knowledge are better able to avoid becoming victims of gang violence.
Establish Neighborhood Watch — Contact your local law enforcement agency for up-to-date information. They can also help you to organize a Neighborhood Watch program in your community. The gang’s power increases through their use of fear and violence to intimidate rivals and citizens alike. This tactic can be countered by citizen action groups such as Neighborhood Watch. A neighborhood that is united in the goal to stop gang crime and violence can be an effective force in curbing gangs.
Cooperate with Police — When gang incidents occur in your neighborhood, cooperate with the police or Sheriff’s Department. Your help may prevent others from becoming victims of gang violence. Any information about gang crimes, wanted suspects or any violent gang-activity should be reported to the police. Remember, fighting crime and dealing directly with violent gang members are best left to experts trained to handle dangerous situations.
Help Support Your Community — Youths loitering after school or “hanging out” provide a breeding ground for gangs. Communities can offer young people alternatives to gang involvement. This includes organized activities for children and teenagers through recreation departments, schools, churches and youth organizations. Communities should seek support from local businesses and industries to employ and train youths.
Finally as parents, we need to help our children feel safe, self confident and respected:
- Spend quality time with you children.
- Become involved with your children’s school activities.
- Establish rules, set limits and be consistent. Know where your children are at all times.
- Encourage good study habits.
- Become a model of self-esteem that your children will want to emulate.
- Respect you children’s feelings and attitudes, and help them develop a strong sense of self-esteem.
- Watch for negative influences that might lead to abuse, gang membership or delinquent behavior.