Method used in Sourcing for Information
I used various approaches to source for theoretical information and empirical data about the gang trends in Washington DC. Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome formed my primary search engines that I used to surf various websites including those of the US Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and DC Metropolitan Police Department. The search engines also enabled me to get specific articles that focused on the general gang information or their situations in counties within the state of Washington DC and its environs.
Through a general search of the internet, I was able to access publications and reports that entail evidence of the existence, activity, and counteractive mechanisms against criminal gangs in the DC. Some of the keywords I used during the internet browsing included gang issues in The United States of America, street gangs in Washington DC, statistics of gang activity in Washington, deaths associated with gang activity in Washington and presence and activities of criminal groups in the streets of District of Columbia. The other sources of data for this report include the Washington Times, Washington Examiner, bulletins by the Washington Health Services and the 2011 National Gang Threat Assessment.
The gang situation in Washington DC is just a case example of how the situation affects other parts the USA. The gangs have undergone marked transformations in different perspectives including formation of criminal alliances and collaborations, increased sophistication, proliferation of ethnic-based and non-traditional gangs and rising recruitment of young school dropouts to the gang groups.
Increasing Gang networks and Collaboration
There is a rising cooperation between rival gangs occasioned by improved transportation, communication and technological networks. These associations have enabled the gangs to entrench in some parts of the state for smuggling of drugs and weapons, money laundering and places for planning street robbers or illegal shootings.
Progressive Sophistication of the Gangs
The activities of gang members is becoming more complicated and unpredictable. They modify the nature of their operations to reduce their vulnerability to police scrutiny and to avoid the gang enhancement laws. For instance, the gangs in several counties in Washington have changed from their traditional indicia; they no longer display their hand signs, tattoos or colours. They also form hybrid gangs to frustrate police operations. The gangs have also turned into new forms of crime such as cybercrime, through which they penetrate into intelligence information thus enabling them to monitor and target law enforcement personnel.
Expansion of Ethnic-Based and Non-Traditional Gang
Gang composition is expanding. Today they include virtually members of different races such as Africans, Asians, Eurasians, Caribbean, and Europeans. These racial groups form small hybrid organizations that are difficult to identify and monitor.
The nature of crimes committed by criminal gangs in Washington D.C also varies as shown below.
Washington DC Annual Crime Totals 2007-2014 (Source; Metropolitan Police Department- https://mpdc.dc.gov/node/199172).
Criminal activities by organized gang groups using various assault weapons have been on a gradual rise in virtually all parts the United States (Statistics and Data | mpdc, 2017). Since the era of immigration and slavery to the most recent entry of the US soldiers to the Middle East countries of Afghanistan and Iraq. The State of Washington DC is one of the localities that experience the adverse effects of crime, criminal gang development, and proliferation (Axelrod, 2015). The increase in crime incidences is attributable to rapid population growth, increased levels of poverty, erosion of the family as a social unit and accessibility of assault weapons.
Being one of the states that receive immigrants from different parts of the world, Washington is prone to groups moving in and out thus creating social disorganization hence a conducive environment for the entrenchment of crime (Hermann, 2015). The social conditions that are associated with poverty and population increase, the new immigrants easily subscribe to gangs as a source of social support to replace the weak familial ties therein. Washington DC is a state that has a population of about six hundred and fifty thousand people and represents a significant part of the US national gang situation.
In the Grant County, Washington DC, for example, teenagers who come predominantly from immigrant families drop out of school to join criminal gangs responsible for many incidences of homicides, street shootings and robbery (Noble, 2016). The Grant Countys Sheriff Department has identified many organized gang groups consisting of over five hundred members in the entire US. This trend replicates in many other counties in Washington.
According to the Washington Health Services Research Project, Research Brief No. 71 of April 2013, the number of firearm-related deaths in Washington per year for the period between 2008 and 2010 was mostly equivalent to the number of motor vehicle accidents. Most of these deaths are associated with the illegal use of firearms by organized criminal gangs to either commit a robbery or threaten people (Hermann, 2015). The Washington Filed office of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) allude to the fact that street gangs or street crews that are neighbourhood based in the state engage in various illicit activities including smuggling of narcotics, recruiting of teenage school dropouts into crime, and street robberies (Statistics and Data | mpdc, 2017).
The groups use all manner of violence and intimidation to command respect from the civilians, protect their organization and support the progress of their illegal activities. The Washington security department collaborates with the national security apparatus to combat the operations of the gangs (2011 National Gang Threat Assessment, 2017). However, the neighborhood-based street crews still present a great challenge to the state security. Some of the known criminal gangs in the state include Bloods and MS-13.
The county established strict rules to control gun ownership such as the Firearms Control Regulations Act of 1975, which prevented its residents from owning handguns except for those who got them before 5th February 1997. However, in the case law Parker v. District of Columbia, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit overturned the admissibility of the regulations thus setting making it easy for guns to enter into the wrongful hands.
Axelrod T. (2015 March 6). Gang Violence Is on the Rise, Even as Overall Violence Declines. US News. Retrieved from http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2015/03/06/gang-violence-is-on-the-rise-even-as-overall-violence-declinesHermann P. (2015, August 6). Deadly violence has become all too Common in one D.C. neighborhood. Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/crime/killings-have-become-all-too-common-in-one-dc-neighborhood/2015/08/06/83dbf09e-3c75-11e5-8e98 115a3cf7d7ae_story.html?utm_term=.3ea372042019
2011 National Gang Threat Assessment. (2017). Federal Bureau of Investigation. Retrieved 13 February 2017, from https://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/2011-national-gang-threat-assessment
Noble A. (2016, March 2). Eight D.C.-area homicides linked to MS-13 street gang. The Washington Times. Retrieved 13 February 2017, from
Statistics and Data | mpdc. (2017). Mpdc.dc.gov. Retrieved 13 February 2017, from https://mpdc.dc.gov/page/statistics-and-dataimmigrant-surge/
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