A parent's guide to gangs
Definition of a Gang: Youth and street gang (according to F.S. 874.03) means a formal or informal association of three or more persons who have a common name or identifying signs, colors, or symbols, who individually or collectively engage in a pattern of criminal activity involving felony crimes and violent misdemeanor offenses.
This parental guide has been compiled by Palm Bay Police Department's Criminal Intelligence Unit to assist parents who feel their child may be affected by gangs or their activities.
For more information, please call Palm Bay Police Department's Criminal Intelligence Unit at (321) 952-3456.
What is Graffiti?
- It is one possible indication of gang activity in your area. Gang graffiti is different than other graffiti, and it takes an educated individual to "read" it. Through graffiti, gangs give notice of their presence and activity. The graffiti can range from individual members' names to symbols, such as a painted crown. Graffiti is how gangs communicate and tell others that the area is visited by a particular gang.
What should I do if I see graffiti?
- Notify your local law enforcement agency so that they can photograph it. This enables law enforcement to monitor gang activity. If you live in Palm Bay, notify the Palm Bay Police Department by calling (321) 952-3456.
How can I tell if my child is in a gang?
- Be aware of the friends with whom your child associates. What kind of clothing does your child wear? Is a particular color or piece of clothing always part of what he or she wears? Does he or she have graffiti on their school book covers?
What should I do if I think my child is in a gang or about to join a gang? What if my child is the victim of gang intimidation?
- Notify your local law enforcement agency. If you live in Palm Bay, notify the Palm Bay Police Department by calling (321) 952-3456 and ask for someone to speak to you and your child. School Resource Officers and DARE Officers are also available to assist you.
Are gangs active in schools?
- In Palm Bay, the School Resource Officers (SROs) are trained in dealing with gangs. They are aware of the kids who belong to gangs and monitor them while they are in school. The SROs work closely with the Street Crimes Unit, the Neighborhood Policing Unit and the Criminal Intelligence Unit, so that gang activity within schools is held to a minimum. Most gang activity occurs away from schools
Are gangs mainly comprised of disadvantaged youths?
- Gang members can come from virtually every socioeconomic level of the community. They can be from the homes of the very rich to the very poor.
Are gangs racially segregated?
- There are gangs that are comprised of one race exclusively, and there are gangs that are integrated. In Palm Bay, we have gangs that are exclusively Black, exclusively Hispanic, and exclusively White. However, the majority of the gangs are racially mixed.
Are gang members armed? What type of weapons do they carry?
- Gang members are sometimes armed. They carry an assortment of weapons ranging from sticks and baseball bats to semi-automatic firearms.
How do kids join gangs?
- Kids normally join street gangs by either committing a crime or by being "jumped in." "Jumped in" is an initiation which involves other gang members beating the perspective member as a test of his or her courage and fighting ability.