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Gang Suppression Unit

The Will County Gang Suppression Unit was formed in April of 1995. It is a multi-jurisdictional unit comprised of police officers from county and local municipalities within Will County. The purpose of the unit is to identify, monitor and apprehend gang members and eliminate their criminal activity, making the streets safe for the citizens of Will County.

To help achieve these objectives the Gang Suppression Unit uses a high visibility patrol in areas of gang activity. A zero tolerance approach is used which means the strict enforcement of all state laws and all county ordinances. The unit also utilizes covert investigative tactics to combat the criminal activity associated with gang members.

Another major function of the Gang Suppression unit is the dissemination of gang intelligence to other law enforcement agencies. To help do this a computer software program called ITS ( Intelligence Tracking System ) has been implemented. This software system was distributed to all law enforcement agencies within Will County. Now these agencies have the ability to share intelligence information with each other on all gang criminal activity occurring within the county. The Gang Suppression Unit maintains the central data-base for this system.

To report gang activity in your community you may do so by one of the following ways. You can telephone your complaints by dialing our office direct at 815.774.7814 or by calling the telecommunication center at 815.727.8575. Callers can remain anonymous. Please provide us with the following information.

Your Name:
E-Mail Address:
Location of the Activity and Time of Day:
Brief Description of the Activity:

Gang Awareness

Definition of street gang or gangs: There is an obvious and distinct difference that separates youth groups from gangs. "Street gang" or "gang" or "organized gang" or "criminal street gang" means any combination, confederation, alliance, network, conspiracy understanding or similar conjoining, in low or in fact, of three or more persons with an established hierarchy that, through its membership or through the agency of any member engages in a course or pattern of criminal activity ( 740 ILCS 147/10 External Link Icon ). Drug distribution, assaults and weapons related offenses are typically associated with established street gangs.

Membership: Gang members represent all social and economic strata of society. Membership is sometimes compelled through intimidation but is often motivated by a desire to belong and/or gain a sense of personal recognition. Gangs include both juveniles and adults.

The composition of major inner-city street gangs is usually defined by ethnic or racial standards. This standard dissipates as gangs establish themselves in small or rural communities. Gang members typically perform poorly in school and have frequent contact with police. Hard-core members develop fierce loyalty to their gang and become locked into the gang's lifestyle, values, attitudes and behavior. Gangs are controlled by leaders who direct criminal activities and enforce rules and orders. Punishment ordered by a leader is known as a "violation" and typically involves a physical beating of the offending member.

Alliances: During the 1980's incarcerated gang members sought protection from rivals by forming two opposing coalitions or alliances, known as "People" and "Folks".

Gangs belonging to the "People" alliance dress and represent to the left side. An earring in the left ear, a left pant leg rolled up and a hat tilted to the left are typical examples. The hand sign is thrown toward the left shoulder. Gang members fold their arms in a manner that will point to their left side. Their graffiti will usually include a five pointed star.

Conversely, those gangs belonging to the "Folks" faction dress and represent to the right side. A six pointed star is utilized in their graffiti. The following matrix illustrates the alignment of major Illinois gangs:

PEOPLE
FOLKS

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Graffiti

Graffiti is a major aspect of gang culture and is used for distinct and different purposes. Graffiti publicizes territorial control by a specific gang and therefore may be rampantly visible throughout a community. Each gang has a specific and unique graffiti which is highly respected by all members. The destruction or defacement of such graffiti by another gang often triggers retribution or violence. Ironically this intentional disrespect is a recurring practice between rival gangs.

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Clothing / Colors

Professional team sportswear has become extremely popular with gang members. Numerous gangs have adopted a professional sports team's apparel because the team colors match the gang colors. For example, the red and black combination of the Chicago Bulls is particularly popular with the Latin Counts, the Black P Stone Nation and the Vice Lords, for those are the gang's colors. Other gangs have focused on the team insignia or name. For instance, the L.A. Kings hockey team caps are popular with the Latin Kings because "Kings" appears on the cap and the team colors are synonymous with those of the gang. Another unique example of the linkage between sports apparel and gangs is the interpretation of a team name which may appear on a jacket or cap. For instance, the University of Nevada Las Vegas is typically represented as UNLV. When read backwards, the acronym is identified as Vice Lord Nation.

Team sportswear alone does not represent gang affiliation. Other supporting indicators are necessary to establish membership.

The following illustrates the adoption of sports apparel by two particular gangs:

Gangster Disciples
Latin Kings

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Community Approach

An intelligent response to gang problems demands input and commitment from all segments of the community. Organized gangs are not established spontaneously. Usually, a group of juveniles create a loose association that begins to mimic the culture of an established hard-core gang. These so called "wanna-bes" are rarely well organized. Their criminal activity is usually limited to petty thefts, vandalism and nuisances which are sometimes minimized or ignored by the community. Yet it is imperative to recognize and vigorously address those issues which signal the emergence of a gang.

Gang symbols drawn on notebooks or other school materials should be banned and removed. Any display or representation of gang membership should not be acceptable in a school setting or a school sponsored event. Student dress standards may also be considered.

Graffiti should be brought to the attention of the local police and where appropriate, school authorities. Prior to removal, it should be photographed or otherwise documented.

Community task forces should be appointed and mandated to explore the full spectrum of issues related to the emergence of gangs. Such issues include housing, counseling, recreational alternatives, employment opportunities, parental responsibility, prosecution and law enforcement capability. When necessary, a community should enact ordinances to curb graffiti, curfew violations, loitering and other activities associated with gangs.

Law enforcement can provide leadership in identifying gang crimes but should not be held solely responsible for the necessary response. Prevention through social services and related efforts is as critical as police suppression. Gangs are a threat to the entire community. Each of us can and must contribute to a collective response.

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