Department of Police
Reporting Gang Activity
The mission of the Reynolds Community College Police Special Investigation Section, Gang Unit is to proactively prevent, interdict, and combat criminal gang activity on every front; with every tool lawfully available including civil remedies. All Reynolds Police Department sworn employees have the responsibility for detection, investigation, and suppression of criminal behavior and activity of gang members.
This mission will be accomplished through the integration of presence, deterrence, investigation, education, intervention, diversion, suppression, enforcement, prosecution, and incarceration. The Gang Unit also makes educational presentations to faculty, staff, students, civic groups, and neighborhood associations.
The following information is intended to help faculty, staff, parents, and other concerned citizens in identifying early warning signs of gang involvement. It is not intended to label or target a particular individual who may exhibit some of the listed characteristics. This information is provided by the Reynolds Community College Police Department for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended as conclusive proof of gang or criminal involvement.
What is a gang?
Virginia State Code § 18.2-46.1 "Criminal street gang" means any ongoing organization, association, or group of three or more persons, whether formal or informal, (i) which has as one of its primary objectives or activities the commission of one or more criminal activities; (ii) which has an identifiable name or identifying sign or symbol; and (iii) whose members individually or collectively have engaged in the commission of, attempt to commit, conspiracy to commit, or solicitation of two or more predicate criminal acts, at least one of which is an act of violence, provided such acts were not part of a common act or transaction. Gangs may be organized on the basis of race, ethnicity or geographical location.
Who belongs to gangs?
Gangs can affect anyone, regardless of age, where they live, or what school they attend. Young people from all walks of life join gangs. Some gang members drop out of school, while others may be excellent students.
Research shows that the following factors are common indicators that a young person may be involved in gang activity:
- Youth admits to gang membership is less than 21 years of age and is identified as a gang member by a parent/guardian.
- Is identified as a gang member by a reliable source.
- Resides in or frequents a known gang area, uses a gang's hand signs, colors, or tattoos, and/or associates with known gang members.
- Has been arrested more than once with or in the company of known gang members for crimes that is consistent with gang activity.
Why do people join gangs?
A gang often meets needs that go unfulfilled in other areas of a young person's life. The gang may provide a sense of security, loyalty, structure and DISCIPLINE that may be missing at home. The following is a list of reasons that may lead a young person to join a gang:
- Lack of positive influence by/interaction with parents
- Protection/peer intimidation
- Replacement or substitute family
- Lack of economic opportunity
- Desire for excitement/machismo
- Lack of alternatives in/out of school
- Protection/security from gang violence
- Feeling of belonging/being cared for
- Media glorification of gang lifestyle
- False representation that it is "cool" to be in a gang
How to identify gang members.
The following are some common indicators to look for if you suspect an individual may be involved in gang activity. These indicators are not a guarantee that an individual is involved in a gang. The only way to know for sure is by communicating.
- Poor academic progress/skipping school/lack of interest in school activities.
- Large amount of unsupervised time.
- Increased conflict at home.
- Frequent disciplinary problems at home/school.
- Frequent contact with police.
- Drawing graffiti.
- Drawings/homework with the letters "B" or "C" crossed-out, inverted or used improperly.
- Using gang hand signs.
- Not associating with longtime friends/secretive about new friends/activities.
- Changing hair or dress styles/having a group of friends with the same styles.
- Changing normal routines/not coming home after school/staying out late at night.
- Photographs with others displaying gang signs, weapons or gang-type clothing.
- Physical signs of being involved in fights/secrecy as to how injuries are received.
Getting out of a gang.
There are numerous resources available in Henrico, and the City of Richmond to assist in getting out of a gang. Government and civic organizations have developed gang prevention and intervention programs to address the lures of the gangster lifestyle such as:
- Boys & Girls Club
- Faith Based Establishments
- Henrico County Juvenile Services
- City of Richmond Juvenile Services
- Goochland County Juvenile Services
For more information on gangs, contact the Gang Unit at (804) 523-5219.