407 West State Street, Trenton, NJ 08618  (609)695-3481
 NJLM logo 

William G. Dressel Jr, Executive Director - Michael J. Darcey, CAE, Asst Executive Director
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The Times of Trenton Archive
COPYRIGHT © The Times of Trenton 2006 

2006/09/14

Experts: Gangs' presence is felt from urban to rural areas

By KEVIN SHEA
STAFF WRITER

Jeannine LaRue's 13-year-old granddaughter is a huge fan of actor and hip hop singer Will Smith.

So it was no surprise to LaRue, one of Gov. Jon Corzine's deputy chiefs of staff, to see a picture of Smith accompanying the log-on of someone who had sent her granddaughter a message on her myspace.com Web page.

But when LaRue clicked on the icon while checking out her granddaughter's page one night, a video of gangsters flashing gang symbols and doing gang dances on the street appeared, stunning the Trenton resident, who is raising two of her grandchildren.

It was 1 a.m., but she woke up her slumbering granddaughter and grilled her about it, LaRue said yesterday at a New Jersey League of Municipalities seminar on gangs. It turns out that LaRue's granddaughter, a church-going honor student, had not communicated with the person.

The message, however, is clear, LaRue said: Gangs can get to any kids in any setting, from urban streets to the bedrooms of suburbia.

"Families must become detectives," LaRue said. "I have become a detective."

LaRue was one of a half-dozen speakers, including Trenton Mayor Douglas H. Palmer and Trenton Police Director Joseph Santiago, who implored the roughly 200 government leaders in attendance not to "bury their heads in the sand" any more and to start doing something, anything, about gangs, whether they represent a suburban township, an urban area or a tiny rural borough.

Speakers gave detailed ideas, including policing tactics and ordinances, for municipalities to consider.

And driving the point home was New Jersey State Police street gang expert Lt. Keith Bevacqui, who in frank and blunt terms said government leaders need to start now. "The problem is here and you've walked away from it (in the past)," Bevacqui said.

"If you think you're immune from the problem, you're not," he said.

Calling himself "a frustrated lieutenant," he told gripping stories of how he encountered street gangs as a trooper in the 1980s and early 1990s, yet government leaders did nothing to heed warnings from those who were seeing a problem developing. In addition, he noted, the State Police had as few as five people assigned to street gangs as recently as the late 1990s. Now the agency has 60.

In July 2005, a State Police survey counted about 16,700 street gang members in New Jersey, with more than half belonging to the Bloods, Latin Kings and Crips. The gangs, which are involved in drug-dealing and robberies, have been blamed in numerous killings, particularly a spate of bloodshed that made last year the deadliest in Trenton's history.

Bevacqui urged police agencies to start using and contributing to the State Police's Statewide Intelligence Management System, or SIMS, a free service that collects police intelligence ranging from terrorism to gangs.

He gave the example of a Woodbridge police officer who logged information into the system in 2004 about a Bloods member who held the gang rank of a three-star general. Last year, during the State Police-led Operation Nine Connect, a major Bloods probe that wrapped up in July with 60 arrests statewide, investigators used that single piece of intelligence to track the suspected gangster to Little Egg Harbor, "where he was running the Atlantic City Bloods," Bevacqui said.

 

NJLM - Gangs' presence felt

407 West State Street, Trenton, NJ 08618  (609)695-3481
 NJLM logo 

William G. Dressel Jr, Executive Director - Michael J. Darcey, CAE, Asst Executive Director
Change Font Size
Larger
| Smaller

The Times of Trenton Archive
COPYRIGHT © The Times of Trenton 2006 

2006/09/14

Experts: Gangs' presence is felt from urban to rural areas

By KEVIN SHEA
STAFF WRITER

Jeannine LaRue's 13-year-old granddaughter is a huge fan of actor and hip hop singer Will Smith.

So it was no surprise to LaRue, one of Gov. Jon Corzine's deputy chiefs of staff, to see a picture of Smith accompanying the log-on of someone who had sent her granddaughter a message on her myspace.com Web page.

But when LaRue clicked on the icon while checking out her granddaughter's page one night, a video of gangsters flashing gang symbols and doing gang dances on the street appeared, stunning the Trenton resident, who is raising two of her grandchildren.

It was 1 a.m., but she woke up her slumbering granddaughter and grilled her about it, LaRue said yesterday at a New Jersey League of Municipalities seminar on gangs. It turns out that LaRue's granddaughter, a church-going honor student, had not communicated with the person.

The message, however, is clear, LaRue said: Gangs can get to any kids in any setting, from urban streets to the bedrooms of suburbia.

"Families must become detectives," LaRue said. "I have become a detective."

LaRue was one of a half-dozen speakers, including Trenton Mayor Douglas H. Palmer and Trenton Police Director Joseph Santiago, who implored the roughly 200 government leaders in attendance not to "bury their heads in the sand" any more and to start doing something, anything, about gangs, whether they represent a suburban township, an urban area or a tiny rural borough.

Speakers gave detailed ideas, including policing tactics and ordinances, for municipalities to consider.

And driving the point home was New Jersey State Police street gang expert Lt. Keith Bevacqui, who in frank and blunt terms said government leaders need to start now. "The problem is here and you've walked away from it (in the past)," Bevacqui said.

"If you think you're immune from the problem, you're not," he said.

Calling himself "a frustrated lieutenant," he told gripping stories of how he encountered street gangs as a trooper in the 1980s and early 1990s, yet government leaders did nothing to heed warnings from those who were seeing a problem developing. In addition, he noted, the State Police had as few as five people assigned to street gangs as recently as the late 1990s. Now the agency has 60.

In July 2005, a State Police survey counted about 16,700 street gang members in New Jersey, with more than half belonging to the Bloods, Latin Kings and Crips. The gangs, which are involved in drug-dealing and robberies, have been blamed in numerous killings, particularly a spate of bloodshed that made last year the deadliest in Trenton's history.

Bevacqui urged police agencies to start using and contributing to the State Police's Statewide Intelligence Management System, or SIMS, a free service that collects police intelligence ranging from terrorism to gangs.

He gave the example of a Woodbridge police officer who logged information into the system in 2004 about a Bloods member who held the gang rank of a three-star general. Last year, during the State Police-led Operation Nine Connect, a major Bloods probe that wrapped up in July with 60 arrests statewide, investigators used that single piece of intelligence to track the suspected gangster to Little Egg Harbor, "where he was running the Atlantic City Bloods," Bevacqui said.

 

 

 

 

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