February 13, 2015

Gang Activity Declines in Small Cities but Goes up in Large Ones

A new report from the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention shows a number of measures of gang activity increasing nationwide, including its geographic distribution.  The report is based on an annual survey of law enforcement agencies.
When comparing data for 2012 with the national average for the five years from 2007 to 2012, the report found that the number of (1) gangs increased by 8% and (2) gang members increased by 11%.  The report attributes these trends primarily to increased numbers reported by larger cities.  Combined with declining rates in smaller cities, the report suggests that gang activity is “becoming even more concentrated in urban areas.”

Because most departments only indicate whether a crime is gang-related when the crime is a homicide, the report does not attempt to measure overall gang criminal activity.  It does report that gangs were involved in about 16% of all homicides in 2012.  Compared to the average for 2007 to 2011, the number of gang-related homicides increased by more than 20%.

Read more about the survey here.