EDITORIAL : A survey by the State Police says gangs aren’t running wild through New Jersey, but police themselves say they’re a growing threat in places like Camden, Newark, Irvington, Lakewood, and Atlantic City, among other areas. “They may not be the boogeyman out there, but in my area, they are becoming a growing problem everyday not to be taken lightly,” a city officer said.
Although gang presence has been reported in the suburbs, the 2010 Street Gang Survey supports anecdotal evidence that the clear and present danger is in the urban core. Look no further than the cold-blooded killing of Lakewood Police Officer Christopher Maltosz by a man now believed to be an enforcer for the Bloods.
In a way, the New Jersey State Police’s 158-page, carefully considered and thoroughly researched survey counters anything some might have been misled into thinking about suburban gangs by fear-mongering editors who spend more time watching golf or discussing how to deep-fry a turkey in their backyards than living among real people, working-class people, everyday people.
Cities are a different story.
Police have identified 244 distinct gangs and 1,575 subsets in New Jersey that have taken names and assumed various signifiers to distinguish themselves. But more than half haven‘t been involved in violent crime. More than half haven‘t dealt drugs. And most tend to make a lot more trouble for one another — and for the police — than for you or me, the survey says.
A large portion are found in the suburban towns.
“[Few] gangs engaged in the dramatic and violent crime which most frequently brings them to the attention of the public,” the report says.
The problem is the other half — those that do. And that’s assuming the stats accurately reflect what’s going on in each of New Jersey’s 566 municipalities.
Gangs in NJ don’t know borders
“The drug dealing, grafitti, robberies and shootings are occurring with increased frequency,” one officer said. “They aren’t scared of the police or of the prison system.”
“I’ve never spent a day (more specifically a night) of my career anywhere other than the streets,” another added. “Gangs are a serious problem pretty much everywhere these days, no matter how many people want to bury their heads in the sand.“
“I can show [you] signs of gang activity, open drug dealing, or thugs carrying guns anywhere in this state and you would not believe it,” said another officer, who’s also a certified firearms instructor. “Unless you know what your looking for, you don’t know what your seeing.”
“The state identifies our pension as a problem. The state identifies our salaries as a problem. The state identifies our medical benefits as a problem,” a Corrections Officer wrote. “The state does NOT identify gangs as an out of control problem. Am I missing something here?
“What if I started killing rival cops, selling drugs for profit, and running amuck in urban towns? Cant help but wonder whose side the state is on here. Is this complete lunacy or is it just me?”Jerry DeMarco Publisher/Editor
Gangs in NJ don’t know borders
NEWS ANALYSIS : The one area where the NJSP’s 2010 Street Gang S urvey gets a little blurry is in individual reporting. For instance: Allendale and Alpine say “no gangs here.” Bergenfield and Bogota say yes. Predictably, Englewood says yes, Englewood Cliffs: no. But try this on: Closter, Cresskill, Norwood and Rockleigh say no, but both Tenafly and Demarest say they each have some type of gang presence. So does Leonia, the so-called college town without a college. CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL STORY
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