Things to Know
Gangs in Florida
The increasing prevalence of criminal gangs in our communities poses a growing threat to our safety and security. Criminal gangs too often spread fear and violence in our neighborhoods making our parks unusable, disrupting safe passages to school and work, hindering legitimate businesses including tourism, and decreasing property values.
The strength of criminal gangs has been their ability to attract a continual stream of young recruits to their ranks. Effective solutions to break the cycle of violent gang activity must begin with prevention, and they must include the active engagement of government, community and faith-based organizations, schools, parents, youth, and our local law enforcement. Additionally, it is essential that law enforcement and prosecutors work together to target the leaders of certain gangs for prosecution, disrupt gang meetings and activities, and cut off the supply of weapons, and illegal sources of income.
Communities should focus their efforts toward making gang membership and gang activity less desirable, and work to turn at-risk youth away from gangs and toward things that will make them productive members of society.
What We Can Do About It?
Acknowledge the problem. Despite increasing evidence of gang crime and violence throughout Florida, some communities continue to deny the obvious gang presence in their neighborhoods, a phenomenon reflected nationwide. Citizen pride regarding their towns and communities, as well as concerns for commercial and financial interests leads to a reluctance to admit to gang problems. Denying the problem leaves it to fester, thus allowing the gangs to thrive amidst community indifference.
Assess the problem. Before you can find solutions to the gang problems in your community, it is best to understand the nature of the problem. How many gangs and gang members are there in your community? What are they doing? Where are they doing it? Is it an emerging or chronic problem? What sorts of local conditions contribute to your gang problem? Why are young people joining gangs in your community? Information should be gathered from law enforcement, schools, community organizations, and youth, themselves.
Act on the problem. Organize stakeholder groups in your community in order to stay informed, share information, and collaborate on targeted multi-strategy solutions.