Salt & Light: A Guide to Loving Northwest Indiana

Page 86

A PERSPECTIVE ON

GANGS

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0 ATP[ ?a^Q[T\ Criminal gangs are a growing problem in Northwest Indiana. In the city of Hammond alone (population 80,000), there are 1,800 alleged gang members. Many of these gang members are teenagers, and some are as young as ten years old. Gangs are comprised of youths from all ethnicities, and are integrated into every section of our community. >OLU JYPTPUHS NHUNZ ÅV\YPZO PU H JVTT\UP[` [OL X\HSP[` VM SPML PU ULPNOIVYOVVKZ X\PJRS` KPTPUPZOLZ ;OL ]PZPISL KL[LYPVYH[PVU ZVTL[PTLZ Z[HY[Z ^P[O NYHMÄ[P SP[[LYPUN HUK PUJYLHZPUN JYPTL I\[ [OLU WYVWLY[` ]HS\LZ ZPUR HUK YLZPKLU[Z TV]L out, sometimes leaving vacated buildings. Gang members have been involved in shootings, murder, rape, burglary, drug dealing, vandalism, and intimidation in 3HRL *V\U[` 4\JO VM [OL ]PVSLUJL PU V\Y Z[YLL[Z PZ [OL YLZ\S[ VM NHUN ^HYZ 4HU` [PTLZ NHUNZ ^PSS ÄNO[ LHJO V[OLY V]LY [\YM VY [OL YPNO[ [V ZLSS KY\NZ PU H JLY[HPU HYLH .HUNZ ^PSS HSZV ÄNO[ V]LY HU` HJ[PVU I` HU VWWVZPUN NHUN [OH[ [OL` MLLS disrespects them. If a gang backs down to an opposing gang, its members lose their own respect and reputations. Some[PTLZ YP]HS NHUNZ ^PSS JYVZZ V]LY PU[V HUV[OLY NHUNZ [\YM ;OL` ^PSS JYVZZ V\[ [OLPY LULT`Z NHUN NYHMÄ[P HUK YLWSHJL P[ ^P[O their own. This type of disrespect can be the spark for violence between gangs. ;OL /HTTVUK 7VSPJL +LWHY[TLU[ ZWLUKZ JVUZPKLYHISL YLZV\YJLZ PU P[Z ÄNO[ HNHPUZ[ NHUN ]PVSLUJL ;OL WVSPJL NHUN \UP[ OHZ LPNO[ TLTILYZ ^OV Z[YP]L [V PU[LYHJ[ ^P[O HUK HYYLZ[ JYPTPUHS NHUN TLTILYZ 5HYJV[PJZ VMÄJLYZ HUK KL[LJ[P]LZ assigned to criminal investigations spend much of their time working to solve and stop gang-related crimes. Thousands of hours are used to combat the war on gangs. 7OV[V I` 1LZZPJH 0ZLUZLL ;OL JVZ[Z [V V\Y YLZPKLU[Z HYL OPNO 0U HKKP[PVU [V JSLHU\W JVZ[Z MVY NYHMÄ[P and other vandalism, residents sometimes feel slighted in the area of police protection because so much manpower goes to policing and eradicating gangs. .HUN NYHMÄ[P PU[PTPKH[LZ YLZPKLU[Z HUK THRLZ [OLT MLLS [OH[ [OLPY VUJL ZHML neighborhood is deteriorating; and as the news media reports gang crimes, our citizens’ fear of violent crime escalates. 0 2^\_[Tg ?a^Q[T\ The gang problem is very complex, and kids join gangs for a variety of reasons. Many are allured by the respect or power they see associated with gang membership. They may be drawn into a gang for drugs, girls, and parties. Some Chief Brian Miller fearlessly leads the battle against gang violence in Hammond.

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