Attorney General Bill McCollum News Release
December 22, 2010
Media Contact: Jenn Meale
Phone: (850) 245-0150
Attorney General McCollum Announces Gang Reduction Strategy Annual Report
TALLAHASSEE, FL – Attorney General Bill McCollum today announced the 2010 Florida Gang Reduction Strategy Report results have been compiled and released. This year’s report announces that for the first time, the Attorney General’s Office has a developed set of metrics to measure gang activity based on reports generated from all 67 counties. This is the first annual report that contains gang statistics from every county in Florida.
“The survey representation of each county in our state is a major step in Florida’s fight to eliminate gang activity,” said Attorney General McCollum. “From this point forward, Florida will have an accurate baseline to detect our state’s progress in reducing gang affiliated crimes.”
The Attorney General’s Office distributed and collected surveys from 256 city and county law enforcement agencies representing all 67 Florida counties. According to the reports, there are 1,403 gangs documented by local law enforcement. Of those 1,403 gangs, there are 56,200 documented gang members, associates and other suspected gang members. These numbers are indicative of the first time Florida has had a statewide measurement of gangs. These numbers have created a baseline to measure gang activity going forward.
The Attorney General noted that Sheriffs Wendall Hall, Larry Campbell, Rick Beseler, Don Eslinger, Al Lamberti, Brand Steube and David Gee served as the leaders of the regional gang reduction task forces and were instrumental in the strategy’s success. Each one of them became the chairperson for their respective regions throughout the state and organized a strong partnership with various state, local and federal law enforcement leaders, prevention organizations, the business community, education professionals, community groups and a host of other key organizations having a strong interest in providing effective intervention services to Florida’s youth.
The mission of the Florida Gang Reduction Strategy, established in 2007, has been to increase the safety of Floridians by empowering Florida’s youth to reject criminal gangs as a viable option and by substantially reducing gang related crime in Florida. The goals are to stop the growth of criminal gangs in Florida, reduce the number of gangs and gang members, and render the remaining gangs ineffectual.
Since 2007, the Attorney General’s Office of Statewide Prosecution has charged more than 170 gang members. Of those defendants, more than 110 have been sentenced to a total of more than 950 years in prison. One of the strategy’s notable successes in the fight against gangs was the arrest and conviction of 12 members of the Third Shift Gang in 2008. The Third Shift gang was a dangerous gang responsible for controlling the drug trade throughout the Manatee County area. Twelve members of the gang were sentenced to a total of 223.5 years in prison; including one member receiving the longest sentence ever handed down to a gang member since the Attorney General’s Office began using the racketeering statute to prosecute criminal gangs.
More information about the gang reduction strategy and the 2010 statewide statistics are available online at http://www.floridagangreduction.com. The website also offers tips on how to recognize gang activity and prevent youth involvement.