News Item: County law enforcement builds anti-gang strategy
(Category: Biker News)
Posted by ace
Thursday 08 June 2006 - 18:16:55

Baltimore County will begin developing a strategic plan to address the issue of gangs, which are present in every police precinct in the county, officials said.

The plan, due to be completed in November, will be funded by $15,000 from the federal government and will address prevention, intervention and suppression of gang activity, said Meg Ferguson, the county's criminal justice coordinator.

The topic of gangs was a focus of discussion at a June 6 meeting of the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, chaired by Ferguson, which brings together representatives from various county departments to discuss criminal justice issues.

According to the Governor's Office on Crime Control and Prevention and Baltimore County police, about 35 gangs currently operate in the county. Typically, they have four to 10 members, with a few having 20 or more members.

According to police, half the gangs are typically neighborhood or school-based gangs. The other half are associated with national gangs such as the Crips and the Bloods.

In Baltimore County, approximately 95 percent of gang members are male and 5 percent are female, according to state statistics. Seventy-four percent are black, 20 percent are white, 3 percent are Hispanic and 3 percent are of unstated race.

"Gangs are present in every police precinct," Ferguson said.

Almost 60 percent of gang activity is concentrated in the Woodlawn, Franklin and Essex precincts, according to the Governor's Office on Crime Control and Prevention.

Forty percent of gang activity in the county takes place in Woodlawn and Franklin, areas dominated by black gangs, according to state statistics. The Essex precinct accounts for 18 percent of all gang activity in the county and is dominated by white local gangs with an increasing number of black gangs.

The Outlaw Motorcycle Gang, which consists of about 75 members, operates mostly in the White Marsh and Dundalk precincts, according to police.

"Violence has increased between the two major groups, the Pagans and the Hell's Angels, including multiple assaults, shooting and a pipe-bombing incident," a new state-operated Web site on gang activity reports.

Internet users can go to www.gangs.umd.edu to report gang activity, read a citizens' guide to gang activity in Maryland and access a guide for parents and youth on avoiding gang.

According to the Governor's Office on Crime Control and Prevention, almost every high school and a few of the middle schools have reported gang activity. School administrators from across the county will address the issue in a two-day conference on safe schools in September hosted by Baltimore County Public Schools.

County police are addressing the issue by posting a gang investigator in each precinct. Also, a three-member team of investigators, known as the Gang Enforcement Team, received a grant to operate last summer and is now fully functional. The Baltimore County state's attorney's office also has a prosecutor dedicated to gang-related crimes.

"The police have a very good handle on this," said Meg Ferguson, the county's criminal justice coordinator.

In Baltimore County, gang activity is occurring "in our lower income, higher crime areas, where kids are looking to belong to something," said Col. William Kelly. "A lot are wannabes, but we do have some true gang members, both on the eastern and western sides of the county."

Earlier this month, Ferguson joined officials from every Maryland jurisdiction who gathered to hear presentations about the reality of gangs in state at the first statewide summit on gangs, held in Columbia.

In a presentation at the conference about gang activity in Baltimore County, Capt. Roman Zaryk, a member of the Gang Enforcement Team, said people should not consider gangs to be just a big city problem.

"They're everywhere. We are not immune to it."

North East Booster


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