Friday 23 September 2011

Tech Savvy Street Gangs Take On Social Media


The fight against Indiana’s gangs isn’t always waged on the street. School officials, social workers and probation officers said the newest battle ground in gang warfare is social media. According to Indianapolis anti-crime advocates who attended a gang awareness seminar on Friday, Indy gang members are younger, more mobile, and they’re using social media networks to recruit and plan. An Indianapolis Metro Police Department gang unit detective said he carries out most of his investigations online and undercover, 6News' Jack Rinehart reported. "I have a Facebook account. My alter-ego has over 210 gang member friends. I have a completely fictitious account,” the IMPD detective said. IMPD have identified more than 300 street gangs in Indianapolis, all of them engaging in various levels of assaults, thefts, robberies and even murder. Lt. Marshall DePew said that because of the gangs’ expansive territory, police have expanded their base of operation, too. "We've expanded our detectives in the unit, and we’ve expanded the number of deputy prosecutors. We have a great liaison with the U.S. attorney’s office. I think more so than ever before, I think we're doing a better job of connecting the dots," DePew said. Police said that every school district in every Indiana county has a gang presence. In Hagerstown in Wayne County, school officials have banned bandannas, sagging pants and cellphone use in school. Officials said they're also contemplating a uniform dress code for students. Dave Land, assistant principal at Hagerstown High School, said he warns parents about the dangers of social media. "I tell parents that if you allow your kids to be on Facebook or do the texting, you're probably going to get into a bullying situation with your son or daughter,” Land said. Police and gang experts agreed that the best deterrent in gang involvement begins at home.