In the early 1990’s, Revere began to experience a serious increase in gang related crimes. During the remainder of the decade and into the millenium, gang violence and gang related crimes have been steadily increasing. The Revere Police Gang Unit is charged with investigating crimes involving gang members. The class and type of crimes investigated by the unit vary from responding to citizen concerns about gang activity to shutting down major narcotics rings and investigating aggravated assaults and homicides.
Gang activity is more complex than it has ever been, encompassing a wide range of groups. The community and your police department now contend with juvenile street gangs, criminal prison gangs, and hate groups which statutorily meet the gang criteria.
Gang activity varies in the North Shore area. Most prevalent are the activities of street gangs. Their activities range from property damage to the most violent of crimes. Criminal street gangs often consist of juveniles and young adults. Ages are more varied in prison gangs and hate groups.
What exactly is a gang?
Gangs can be described as “”three or more persons having a common identifying sign or symbol, or an identifiable leadership who continuously or regularly associate in the commission of criminal activities.”” In looser terminology, a gang can be described as a group of individuals who may claim control over certain territories and engage in illegal behaviors. As history has shown, participants are often volatile, committing acts of violence toward rival gang members or the general public for even minor infractions of their code.
Police officers and the public must understand that gang activity is not limited to any specific race, economic status, or political ideology. There are gangs exclusive to Black members, Hispanics, Asians and Whites. There are also a number of gangs which cross racial boundaries.
Consequences of Gang Affiliation
Youth and street gangs often pay a high price for membership. Initiation rights often involve committing serious criminal and sometimes violent acts to prove loyalty. Membership often guarantees a criminal history that can impede a person’s ability or likelihood to succeed in life. Gang members also place their loved ones in jeopardy. Drive-by shootings into residences have resulted in the serious injury or death of individuals who are not gang affiliated.
Gang membership extracts a terrible toll from the lives of all who are in contact with the member. Family members often have to concern themselves with their safety because of a son’s, daughter’s or sibling’s affiliation with a violent gang. A lasting impact is that inducted gang members often retreat from the positive influences in their community including friends, family, schools, and community organizations. They find their only friends are active gang members who become part of their extended family.
Steps Parents, Community Members and Educators Can Take
- Talk to your teenager. Discuss the consequences of becoming involved in a gang or hate group.
- Involve your children in family and outside activities.
- Take an active role in your child’s education and progress.
- Become acquainted with the resources available to you such as the District Representative program, patrol initiatives and educational programs provided to the community by the Gang Suppression Unit.
- Work within your community and with your government, including the Austin Police Department, in identifying and intervening in gang and hate group activities before they become a major problem in your community.
- Respond quickly in removing graffiti, the common means of gang advertising, and repairing vandalism in your neighborhood. A prompt response signals gang members that we have pride in our neighborhoods, and that we will not relinquish our communities and quality of life.
- Report suspected gang activity immediately. In an emergency, dial 9-1-1. You may wish to consult a gang specialist and should feel free to telephone the Gang Unit, Lt. John Goodwin at (781) 284-1212.
Joint Juvenile Gang Unit
In 2003 the Joint Juvenile Gang Unit was formed to address youth gang activity in and around the Revere area. The Joint Juvenile Gang Unit consists of officers from the ranks of the Revere Police Department in conjunction with officers from other area cities and towns; including, among others, Chelsea, Lynn and Boston. These officers focus their efforts on identifying and addressing youth gang activity. If you suspect your child is involved in gang activity or you would like addtional information concerning the Joint Juvenile Gang Unit you can contact the following officers:
Lt. John Goodwin
With the support and vigilance of all residents, the any gang issue can be controlled. Police departments are only as successful as the community they serve. A continuing partnership is our best defense.