STATE – According to a newly-released report by the New Jersey State Police, gangs are present in 45 percent of New Jersey’s municipalities. Nearly all of the state’s 566 municipalities responded to the survey, with only Elizabeth declining.
The 2010 Street Gang Survey is the fourth such survey during the last nine years. Street gang investigators from around the state were queried to provide a broad spectrum of knowledge which goes well beyond census data for street gangs. It sheds light on the influence gangs have on the community around them, looks at questions of size, organization, patterns of criminality, and examines indicators of gang cohesion.
“I am proud of our talented analysts and Street Gang Unit members that have honed this intelligence product to a razor’s edge. This survey probes the collective law enforcement knowledge to cut to the core of what gangs mean to us all; what threats they pose and how their behavior is trending,” said Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “Its contents are requisite information for any police agency forming anti-gang strategy, but accessible enough for any citizen concerned about the phenomenon of street gangs,” he added.
According to the latest findings, gangs do not appear to have spread significantly throughout the state, maintaining a presence in roughly the same number of municipalities as they did in the 2007 survey. The 2010 survey revealed that gangs were present in both urban and suburban municipalities, were relatively small and that few gangs engaged in the dramatic and violent crime which frequently brings them to the attention of the public.
“Raising awareness with the release of this survey will benefit law enforcement and the public,” said Attorney General Paula Dow. “While each community may have a different set of concerns, we all have a vital interest in addressing the problem of street gangs. Their negative influence transcends crimes by spreading fear and intimidation. That’s why gangs will remain the focus of concerted law enforcement efforts and preventative initiatives for the foreseeable future,” she said.
The survey identified 244 distinct gangs, and 1,575 gang sets. Thirty municipalities reported a gang presence for the first time in the 2010 survey. One third of municipalities reporting gang presence said that gang activity had increased over the last year.
The Latin Kings, the Sex Money Murder (252) set of the Bloods, the 9-3 (Nine Trey) set of the Bloods, the Pagans MC and MS-13 were the most commonly identified gangs, with presence in 60 or more New Jersey municipalities.
Eighteen of 25 municipalities in Middlesex County reported gang activity, with only Cranbury, East Brunswick, Helmetta, Jamesburg, Metuchen, Monroe and South Amboy saying they were gang-free. New Brunswick has 13 gangs, the most of any municipality in the county, with an estimated 392 members.
Nine of 21 Union County municipalities reported no gang presence: Clark, Cranford, Fanwood, Garwood, Hillside, Kenilworth, Springfield, Summit and Winfield. Although Elizabeth did not respond to the State Police survey, data provided by the Union County Prosecutor’s office shows there are 24 gangs with 463 members present in the city. Plainfield has 32 gangs with 1,030 members.
Other municipalities estimated a significantly smaller number of gang members, in some cases as few as one or two. However, in many instances individual gang populations were unknown or unspecified by responding agencies.
The University of Maryland has finished creating a website hosting 2010 data under www.NJGangSurvey.com. This site offers searches by gang name and crime type.
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