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Intelligence: The Key to Gang Suppression

NCJ Number
Corrections Today Magazine Volume: 68 Issue: 2 Dated: April 2006 Pages: 42-45
Brian Parry
Date Published
April 2006
4 pages
This article identifies and discusses some of the benefits of having an effective gang intelligence unit in a correctional setting.
One benefit of a gang intelligence unit is staff safety. Gang intelligence has uncovered plots to injure or kill staff members. Another benefit of collecting and analyzing intelligence is to prevent violence and solve crimes against other inmates, the public, and rival gangs. Intelligence officers have decoded cryptic messages, read numerous prison letters, and listened to hours of monitored/recorded inmate telephone conversation as a means of uncovering information critical to solving crimes committed both in the community and inside correctional facilities. The sharing of intelligence also helps agencies with limited resources prioritize their enforcement activities to deal with trends or patterns of gang behavior. A third benefit of an effective gang intelligence unit in a correctional setting is the development of information sources. This can pertain to the identification of active gang members, the development of confidential informants among those who want to leave gangs, and the conducting of interviews with inmates to obtain advance information on planned criminal and disruptive inmate activity. Another benefit of collecting gang intelligence is the identification of new training needs for staff who must deal with trends and behaviors in gang behavior among inmates. The article also outlines the steps in the intelligence cycle. These are collecting the raw information, organizing the information into usable form, and the dissemination of information to the people with a need to know about the activities revealed in the intelligence. An effective intelligence officer should have integrity, excellent communication skills, analytical ability, initiative, and commitment to agency goals. The ability to develop information sources and confidential informants is essential to the work. Knowledge of gangs and computer skills are also helpful.


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