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What's in a Name? Gang Monikers

NCJ Number
FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin Volume: 66 Issue: 5 Dated: (May 1997) Pages: 14-17
C R Wilson
Date Published
4 pages
This article explains the nature of gang-member "monikers" (nicknames) and how law enforcement officers can obtain moniker information; the author also suggests a multijurisdictional approach for sharing gang information and describes a newly established national gang database designed to facilitate it.
Monikers are the names gang members use among their peers; as such, they become symbols of acceptance by the gang. Both male and female gang members may be known by monikers. There are several styles of monikers. Many reflect a distinctive aspect of a gang member's personality, physical characteristics, reputation, or other trait. Gang members now use monikers so dependably that these pseudonyms can provide a reliable source of investigative information. Traditionally, police officers familiar with the areas they patrol have been the primary source of moniker information. Informant interviews are another method of obtaining moniker information, as well as the monitoring or recording of inmate visits or conversations between gang members. To be used effectively during an investigation, moniker information and other gang intelligence must be organized into a database. Many States have statutes that regulate the collection and storage of personal identifying information; therefore, officers should check the law in their jurisdictions. Because gangs do not respect law enforcement jurisdictional boundaries, a unified, multijurisdictional database would allow the optimum response to gang-related crime. By giving participating agencies access to information on gangs and their members' monikers, associates, vehicles, and the like, a unified database can offer the best overall evaluation of gang activity. 2 notes