POLICE Magazine

JAN 2019

Magazine for police and law enforcement

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30 POLICE JANUARY 2019 execute robberies, burglaries, and pharmacy thefts. Often these hybrid gangs are temporary. However, in the case of neighborhood gangs, they can form into their own group with an informal set of rules and standards effectively modeling themselves in the image of the traditional gangs that seem to be diminishing. is is true for both street gangs and prison gangs. Let's be clear; hybrid gangs are not new. e concept has been familiar to cops who police the gang world for quite a few years now. I believe the first time I remember seeing the word "hybrid" applied to gangs was in the FBI's National Gang reat Assessment in 2011. Under the sophistication section that report stated, "Gang members are becoming more sophisticated in their structure and operations and are modifying their activity to minimize law enforcement scrutiny and circumvent gang enhancement laws. Gangs in several jurisdictions have modified or ceased traditional or stereotypical gang indicia and no longer display their colors, tattoos, or hand signs. Others are forming hy- brid gangs to avoid police attention and to make it more difficult for law enforcement to identify and monitor them, according to NGIC reporting." PERSONAL EXPERIENCE A s I read that FBI assessment back in 2011, I didn't realize how big of an impact hybrid gangs would carry for me in the future. I have to admit that even as an experienced gangs investigator, I was still stuck on the traditional version of how gangs operate, and I was convinced the hybrid gang/clique thing was a fad. I didn't think it would pick up the traction that it did. I ignorantly admit the traditional (read "California") gang mindset was hard for me to break. Only after I continued to encounter the same situation as the 2013 traffic stop that I discussed, and talked to officers from surrounding gang units, and interviewed numerous documented gang members, did I realize the old way of looking at gangs had to change. So what does this mean for us in the law enforc- ment profession? It means we have to work harder, dig deeper, and ask more questions. In the words of Sun Tzu, we must "know our enemy." If we know our "en- emy," in this case the members of the gang sub- culture, then we can better understand the moti- vations and understand the phenomena behind organized criminal gang activity. It's not just that gang members from other gangs who you would not expect to see together are now cooperating to commit crimes, but even the things that were presumed truths are not the same anymore. It used to be that a traditional Blood gang member would not be caught dead wearing blue. at doesn't mean he would only wear red. But he would never wear blue. And his Crips counterparts had the same feelings toward red. I have worked several investigations now where a Blood seems to have more photos on open social media wearing "ri- val" gang colors than his own crew's. We as gang investigators have to work twice as hard because the in- formation and indicators that used to jump out at us are now lost in the mess of the hybrid gang's evolution. As our culture goes, so goes our gangs. e attitudes of millennial gang members are not much differ- ent than those of many non-criminal millennials. ey have no patience, so we are living in a world of gangs where their motto is the same as the one shouted on the TV ads of finan- cial services company J.G. Went- worth: "It's my money and I want it now." eir immediate predecessors would have to prospect or probate for a year (time varied from gang to gang) only to start off at the bottom and hope to work their way to the top. Today's young gang members are not wanting to wait around for what they feel they are entitiled to now. ey don't see why they should wait, why they should put in the time, why they should have to answer to leadership. ey aren't as concerned with the rules and regulations or what color to wear or not wear. ey also rebel against the leadership that says the money they work for should go to anyone other than themselves. In fact, money is the biggest reason for this change. Numerous gang members have stated they are a Blood in a car with Crips or a Tango in a car with a Texas Syndicate member because the only color that matters to them is green. ey are not as concerned with climbing the ranks the tra- ditional way when they can get richer faster being their own boss. PRISONS T his change in gang culture is not just af- fecting street gangs. We are seeing it in the prisons as well, at least here in Texas. e fastest up-and-coming inmate group in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) is the Tangos. I call them a group because even though they are documented as a gang on the streets, they have yet to be labeled by TDCJ as a se- curity threat group (STG). Tangos say they started off as a Hispanic pro- tection group, but to paraphrase John Emerich The Rise of Hybrid Gangs Younger gang members are displaying a lack of respect for the old order and will break the gang's "old" rules to make money. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

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