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Toolkit: Gang Investigation, Prevention, and Prosecution Resources

A Parent's Quick Reference Card Recognizing and Preventing Gang Involvement

This quick reference guide provides common warning signs of gang involvement, but may not be all-encompassing. Parents should look for multiple signs to indicate possible gang involvement because some of these indicators alone, such as clothes or musical preferences, are also common among youth not involved in gangs. Parents are encouraged to familiarize themselves with local gang symbols, seek help early, and consider contacting school personnel, local law enforcement, faith leaders, and community organizations for additional assistance.

Compilation of Gang-Related Legislation

Legislation listed on this site refers to laws that are in effect. No proposals pending in state or federal legislatures are included until they have become enforceable laws in effect. On a rare basis, laws in effect are declared unconstitutional in whole or in part after judicial review. Double-check the current status of any law listed on this site before assuming it is valid or acting in reliance upon it. This information is updated as new legislation and existing legislation are identified.

Gang Resistance Education And Training (G.R.E.A.T.) Families Training

Specialized training is available for certified G.R.E.A.T. instructors who are interested in delivering the G.R.E.A.T. Families Component in their communities. This intensive training will prepare lead facilitators to plan, organize, and conduct the G.R.E.A.T. Families Program in their communities. Certified lead facilitators are authorized to train their own cofacilitation teams. Cofacilitators can include teachers, youth counselors, members of the faith community, parents, or other qualified adults who are committed to working with families. The G.R.E.A.T. Families Training (GFT) is a 2-day course.

Gang Resistance Education And Training (G.R.E.A.T.) Officer In-Service Training

G.R.E.A.T. Officer In-Service Training (GOI) is an advanced 24-hour training for G.R.E.A.T. instructors who have taught G.R.E.A.T. for at least one year. The goal of the training is to provide an interactive and self-directed forum where instructors will learn: 1) How to more effectively implement, facilitate, and sustain the G.R.E.A.T. Program 2) New ways to ethically respond to common situations involving school staff, parents, and students using effective communication, interaction, and coping skills.

Gang Resistance Education And Training (G.R.E.A.T.) Officer Training

In order for a law enforcement professional to be certified to teach any of the G.R.E.A.T. curricula, successful completion of G.R.E.A.T. Officer Training (GOT) is required. The training is a comprehensive course that focuses on the structure and content of the G.R.E.A.T. curriculum and provides knowledge of current gang trends, while building the skills necessary to teach in a classroom setting. The goal of the GOT is to educate and certify officers to successfully deliver the G.R.E.A.T. curriculum in their respective communities.

Helping At-Risk Youth Say "No" to Gangs

An NIJ-funded evaluation finds that a revised curriculum and greater attention to teacher training have resulted in an improved program for preventing gang membership and delinquency.

National Gang Center

The National Gang Center (NGC) is a project jointly funded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) and the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), Office of Justice Programs (OJP), U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). The NGC is an integral component of the Justice Department’s mission to provide innovative leadership in coordination with federal, state, local, and tribal justice systems to prevent and reduce crime. The NGC disseminates information, knowledge, and outcome‐driven practices that engage and empower those in local communities with chronic and emerging gang problems to create comprehensive solutions to prevent gang violence, reduce gang involvement, and suppress gang‐related crime.

Street Gang Investigator Training - National Gang Center (NGC)

This three-day class offers not only basic, entry-level training, but more advanced gang training for law enforcement agencies and features research- and field-based information tailored for regional applicability. These trainings provide instruction on how to recognize and identify gang members and their insignia; ways to develop sources of information about gang activities within the community and through social media investigative techniques; how to manage confidential gang informants and witnesses; management and policy issues; strategies for suppressing gang activity; and multijurisdictional approaches to gang investigations. These curricula have been developed, tested, and presented throughout the United States. Training modules are taught by experts in the field, all with ten or more years of real-world experience.

Anti-Gang Seminar for Law Enforcement Chief Executives - National Gang Center (NGC)

The Anti-Gang Seminar for Law Enforcement Chief Executives is designed to serve as a forum where senior law enforcement officials can discuss real, executive-level issues involving gangs and share innovative and promising approaches. The seminar is designed to be a collegial, facilitated event in which the participants' experiences are shared and constitute educational value. Through discussions and brief scenario-based exercises, the participants have the opportunity to learn from their peers, while sharing their own experiences.

Basic Training for Street Gang Investigators - National Gang Center (NGC)

The Basic Training for Street Gang Investigators training is designed to build competency for sworn gang investigators with little to no formal gang training. The training provides officers with information to better recognize gang indicators and understand how gang crimes differ from other crimes. The course presents tools and resources for gathering intelligence, investigating gang crimes, and performing gang suppression activities. The lessons are designed to build on each other, providing a solid-core knowledge of gang-related topics. The goal of the Basic Training for Street Gang Investigators course is to provide officers with the necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities to safely and effectively investigate gang crimes. This training has been developed for gang officers and intelligence analysts currently assigned to gang investigations who have fewer than three years of gang investigation experience. This training will also benefit other law enforcement officers who encounter gangs on the street.

OJJDP Comprehensive Gang Model

The OJJDP Comprehensive Gang Model is a set of five core strategies—community mobilization, opportunities provision, social intervention, suppression, and organizational change and development—that offer a comprehensive, collaborative approach designed to prevent and reduce gang violence.

Gang Unit Supervision Training - National Gang Center (NGC)

This two-day class is intended for officers who are currently or soon to be assigned as supervisors in gang units. Although this curriculum is designed for personnel who operate against street gangs, security threat group supervisors are accepted on a space-available basis.

Street Gangs and Interventions: Innovative Problem Solving with Network Analysis

This publication briefly reviews the range of prevention, intervention, suppression, and comprehensive strategies, providing examples of each type. It then offers a case study of problem analysis in Newark, New Jersey. The Greater Newark Safer Cities Initiative (GNSCI) began in 1996 as a collaborative effort among law enforcement, community groups, social service agencies, clergy, and Rutgers University to address and temper the local violence problem. By 2003, the partners in GNSCI expressed concern over a perceived growth in street gangs and related crime. Accordingly, the North Jersey Gang Task Force emerged under the framework and from the existing partnerships of GNSCI. This publication also discusses the unique utility of network analysis in the resultant problem analysis and underscores the important role of an academic research partner. Finally, the paper considers the importance of sustainability with regard to problem analysis.

Girls and Gangs

This document explores the prevalence of girls and gangs, why girls join gangs, the activities that girl gangs participate in, and strategies for keeping girls out of gangs.

Parents’ Guide to Gangs

Parents play an important role in keeping young people out of gangs. There are many things parents can do to help their children stay away from gangs, including monitoring their activities, fostering close relationships with them, and using positive and consistent discipline. However, parents often lack factual information about gangs. This guide is designed to provide parents with answers to common questions about gangs to enable them to recognize and prevent gang involvement.

Gang-Related Witness Intimidation - National Gang Center Bulletin

Intimidation of victims and witnesses by gang members is a significant problem throughout all regions of the United States. Witness intimidation infringes upon the effective and fair operation of the criminal justice system. Simply put, without witnesses, the system will not work.

Community Prosecution Techniques to Reduce Drug-Related Gang Activity

Once thought to be only a big city problem, gang violence has spread throughout our country. As law enforcement has become better equipped to suppress gang violence in urban areas, gang members have taken their activities into suburban and even rural areas.With the community prosecution philosophy empowering prosecutor offices to forge partnerships with the community, law enforcement, and public and private agencies, the community prosecutor is uniquely situated to address neighborhood safety. Because community prosecution is a collaboration of community stakeholders, the community prosecution model is flexible and can address a wide range of gang-related activities such as gun violence, prostitution, drug dealing and nuisance properties. There is no formula one must follow to improve the livability of a community, but by applying the community prosecution model, the community prosecutor stays proactive in helping reduce gang violence.

Street Gang Intelligence Course Online Training

This online training course is designed to assist law enforcement officers in understanding the steps involved in the intelligence process and applicable standards, suggests possible sources of information, and highlights some of the problems encountered in collecting gang intelligence. This course is restricted to law enforcement personnel.

Why Youth Join Gangs

This video presentation features gang researchers, practitioners, and young people who were previously involved in gangs. Learn about research regarding gang joining, as well as firsthand insights into the behaviors and the circumstances that you might observe when interacting with youth who are at high risk of joining a gang.

Gang Resistance Education (G.R.E.A.T.) Web site

Gang Resistance Education And Training (G.R.E.A.T.) is an evidence-based and effective gang and violence prevention program built around school-based, law enforcement officer-instructed classroom curricula. The Program is intended as an immunization against delinquency, youth violence, and gang membership for children in the years immediately before the prime ages for introduction into gangs and delinquent behavior.

Gang Resistance Education And Training (G.R.E.A.T.) FAQ

This Website features frequently asked questions regarding the G.R.E.A.T. program for the public, educators, law enforcement, parents/guardians, and students.

Responding to Gangs in the School Setting

A 2010 National Gang Center Bulletin addressing the problem and assessment of gangs in schools and potential solutions.

Getting Out of Gangs, Staying Out of Gangs: Gang intervention and Desistence Stategies

2013 National Gang Center Bulletin focused on gang intervention and desistence in regard to gang members leaving gangs.

Multidisciplinary Gang Intervention Teams

The 2007 National Gang Center Bulletin outlining the development, role, and practice of multidisciplinary gang intervention teams in addressing gang problems.

Frequently Asked Questions About Gangs

Answering many questions regarding gangs, gang joining, gang trends, and more, this document provides a list of the most commonly asked questions received by the NGC.

Changing Course: Preventing Youth From Joining Gangs

Changing Course offers evidence-based principles that can halt the cascading impact of gangs on youth, families, neighborhoods and society at large. The goal of the book (and a separate executive summary publication) is to help policymakers who make decisions about the best use of taxpayer dollars — and practitioners who work in the trenches, such as law enforcement officers, teachers and community services providers — understand what the research says about keeping kids out of gangs.

Gang Prevention: An Overview of Research and Programs

This bulletin presents research on why youth join gangs and how a community can build gang prevention and intervention services. The author summarizes recent literature on gang formation and identifies promising and effective programs for gang prevention.

Gang-Related News Articles

This page provides a list of articles pertaining to gangs and gang-related activities from various U.S. and Canadian news sources. A link to the source of each article is provided. The list of articles can be refined and filtered by date and limited to a specific state or Canadian province or territory.

National Gang Center Newsletter

The National Gang Center (NGC) Newsletter is an educational and informational tool for those engaged in efforts to reduce gang involvement and crime in communities. This publication aims to educate and inform practitioners, researchers, law enforcement, and others with a shared interest in gangs on current trends such as injunctions, significant court decisions, emerging gangs, gang trainings, and strategies being used in communities to deal with gangs.

Gang Prosecutions, United States Attorneys' Bulletin

This bulletin highlights a number of topics in the investigation and prosecution of gang crime, such as Using Indicia Search Warrants in Gang Prosecutions; Gangs, Guns, Drugs and Money; Sex Trafficking and Gangs; Gangs and White Collar Crime; Prosecuting Sureno Gangs Beyond Los Angeles; DOJ International Resources; Expert Codebreakers in Court; Using Digital Fingerprints for Investigations and Cases Involving Electronic Evidence; Combating Witness Intimidation in Gang-Related Prosecutions; Combating Violent Street Crews in a Focused Deterrence Strategy; and Reentry Efforts and Gangs.

Guidelines for Establishing and Operating Gang Intelligence Units and Task Forces

This document provides guidance to agencies seeking to establish and operate a gang task force or gang intelligence unit within their jurisdiction or those agencies that participate in a gang task force.


GANGINFO Exchange is a discussion group that facilitates an informal exchange of ideas, opinions, and interests related to topics such as gang member identification; gang presence indicators; gang activity; gang-related news, trends, and research; gang conferences and trainings, and gang-related practitioner job opportunities.

Gang Prosecution Manual

This is a workbook designed to help local prosecutors and investigators visualize and prepare for every step of a gang‐related crime prosecution, from the initial crime scene investigation to preparing and presenting the case and, finally, sentencing issues specific to gang cases.  This document has been prepared by working prosecutors and investigators from states with very different legal requirements.    They have years of experience in dealing with the complexities of violent gang‐related crime.  The intent of this manual is to assist local prosecutors in holding gang‐involved offenders accountable for their actions and, ultimately, guarding the community from gangs.

Strategies to Address Gang Crime: A Guidebook for Local Law Enforcement

This document provides information about developing and enhancing local law enforcement responses to gangs in their jurisdictions. The focus of the guidebook is on the use of problem-solving strategies to help agencies select the interventions most appropriate for their jurisdictions. In particular, the guidebook describes the SARA model (Scanning, Analysis, Response and Assessment), a strategic problem-solving process that local law enforcement can apply to its local gang problem. Growing evidence (Dalton, 2004) shows that applying the SARA model will greatly improve the law enforcement response to gangs and will lead to safer communities.

A Law Enforcement Official’s Guide to the OJJDP Comprehensive Gang Model

The OJJDP Comprehensive Gang Model provides a framework for coordinated community action to prevent youth from joining gangs and reduce street gang crime and violence. This brochure identifies law enforcement’s role in the process.

Prosecution of Criminal Organizations - A More Effective Means to Curbing Violence

A federal prosecution that focuses on the organization responsible for directing the violence will be more effective by addressing both “the shot-callers” and the “soldiers” that ultimately carry out these violent missions. Typically, the organization will have an “enforcer” that relays the mission from “shot-caller” to “soldier” and usually supervises to ensure that the mission is carried out. An effective means of curbing the urban violence is to target each person responsible for the deadly outcome. To further enhance the effectiveness of targeting organizations, a constant vigil of that organization should be maintained. A one-time prosecution of a criminal organization will rarely be sufficient in curbing violence in the long term. An experienced federal prosecutor recognizes that “today’s defendant is tomorrow’s cooperator.” Incorporating these cooperators into subsequent investigations of the criminal organization will greatly disrupt, if not dismantle, the organization.

Gang Experts: Best Practices and Avoiding Pitfalls

Since the 1980s, gang experts have become an increasingly commonplace sight in federal courtrooms. A gang expert’s testimony has advantages and disadvantages: on the one hand, the expert can provide a comprehensive overview of the gang and introduce jurors to a criminal world they would not otherwise understand.87 A poised, effective expert at the beginning of your case can set the stage for the rest of your evidence, some of which may come from less-than-articulate cooperators. And in the RICO context, an expert alone may be able to establish the existence of the enterprise.88 On the other hand, an expert is almost sure to draw legal challenges at the trial level, as well as scrutiny and potentially reversal on appeal.89 The question that frequently arises in cooperator-driven cases is: why use a gang expert if you have cooperators who can testify about much of the same information?

National Gang Intelligence Center

The National Gang Intelligence Center (NGIC) is a multi-agency fusion center responsible for the gathering and sharing of timely information to federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and correctional agencies regarding the growth, migration, criminal networks, patterns, trends, and associations of gangs whose violent criminal activities pose a significant threat to communities throughout the nation. The NGIC is comprised of intelligence professionals from the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF); the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP); the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS); and the Department of Defense (DoD). These agencies integrate their resources in order to provide the most accurate, all-inclusive view of the gang situation in the United States.

Responding to Gangs in Schools: A Collaborative Approach to School Safety

A guide designed to provide schools and law enforcement with sound practices and collaborative techniques to identify, assess, and address gang activity in the school setting.

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