Let's get gangs OUT of Hillsborough County.
Call the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office with anonymous information about:
It's time to tell gangs:
"Get Out. Stay Out. Gang Out."
Gang enforcement and prevention are a priority of Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee. The 1-877-GANGOUT anonymous tip line is funded partly through a $2.5 million grant awarded to Tampa Bay area law enforcement agencies as part of the U.S. government's nationwide Comprehensive Anti-Gang Initiative. Resource and information sharing is one way the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office is helping to get gangs out of Hillsborough County.
Imagine This . . .
You have lived in the same neighborhood for years. You know your neighbors. You have watched the neighborhood children grow into teenagers.
Then one night you hear noises outside; you get up to check. You look, and you see three to five teenagers hanging out in your neighbor's driveway. All of the teenagers appear to be dressed similarly, they are using foul language, and they are talking about their plans for the weekend.
Weeks go by and you notice graffiti in the neighborhood, property crimes increasing, and those same kids hanging outside have increased in numbers. They are staying up later, playing music louder, leaving beer cans in the gutter, and the foul language continues.
It is very likely that your neighbor's child has become involved in a gang, and it is time to get law enforcement involved. The longer you wait the stronger they become.
What Is A Gang?
A gang is a formal or informal on-going organization, association, or group of three or more persons who:
- Have a common name or common identifying signs, colors, or symbols.
- Have members who individually or collectively engage in criminal acts.
What Do Gangs Do?
"Just hangin' Out"
Gangs are notorious for being involved in a variety of acts that are not as innocent as just hanging out. The following are activities you may find a typical gang or gang member involved in are:
- Grand Theft Auto
- Auto and Residential Burglaries
- Criminal Mischief (Vandalism Graffiti)
- Weapon Possessions
- Drug Sales and/or Use
- Loitering In Neighborhoods and Around Businesses
- Violent crimes, such as battery, aggravated battery and even murder, are always possibilities when confrontation ensue between rival gangs.
Where Are They?
Hillsborough County gangs are not as turf oriented as some may think. Gangs are extremely mobile, especially when members are out committing property crimes or visiting events or locations such as movies, shopping malls, dances, etc.......
Sometimes they just want to be together and be left alone. Members may hang out in areas where they feel they will not be hassled by law enforcement.
Often times their "hangout" may be a fellow gang member's home (which may be in your neighborhood), a small neighborhood park, near a school, or even at the rear of a business plaza.
They Won’t Hurt Me...... Will They? Are They Dangerous?
Gangs and gang members use intimidation to spread fear to earn respect from their peers and rival gangs. Because they sometimes seek confrontations with rival gangs, there is a propensity for violence.
Their strength is built on their reputations of being prepared to commit these acts of violence.
Unfortunately their actions can claim innocent lives.
You Are The Solution!
What Can I Do?
The most important thing you can do is educate yourself about how gangs operate and look for gang activity in your neighborhood and business community.
If you notice juveniles or young adults involved in any suspicious activity, whether alone or in a group, contact law enforcement immediately.
By taking the initiative to make a simple telephone call, law enforcement can respond and gather information about gangs.
Law enforcement collects intelligence about members such as gang names, member names/street names, address phone numbers, gang habits, and photographs of members from these contacts initiated by you.
Your telephone call is vital for the success of early intervention and tracking gang activity.
Law enforcement works best when a partnership is formed and maintained between you the citizen and your local law enforcement agency.
We Are The Solution!
Talking To The Parents:
When the child....
- Has not been home for several nights.
- Decreases communication with family.
- Abrupt changes in personality.
- Unknown source of money.
- Adopts a new group of friends and stops communicating with old friends.
- Decline in school grades, truancy becomes a norm.
- Hangs around with "groups" of youths.
- Begins wearing a particular color, style, or items of clothing consistent with others within the group.
- Has a tattoo or an urgency to get one.
- Graffiti showing specific symbols found on personal property.
- Becomes confrontational and exhibits violent behavior.
- Extremely loyal to his new group of friends, and replaces hobbies or activities that at one time were important.
Is It Too Late?
For The Parents:
In a day where both parents often work full-time to make ends meet, many of our teens are unsupervised in the afternoon hours. Parents should make an effort to become involved in their teens lives.
Teenagers left unsupervised will find something to do with their time. Their ability to make good choices or decisions about what type of friends they associate with is critical.
Today's youths are actively seeking someone to look up to, as well as feeling the need to be accepted by their peers.
Recognizing this need and discussing the negative aspects and consequences of gang membership, will greatly improve a parents ability to prevent their child from becoming involved in gang activity.
Other preventive measures are suggested as follows:
- Plan after school activities or events with positive role models or supervision, such as sports, music lessons, church events, dance, etc.
- Plan "quality time" in the evenings for the entire family to discuss the events of the day. Parents should be involved in their child's every day life.
- Teach your child "Individualism". A child that is taught to take pride in their right to make individual decisions, is more likely to stand by those decisions in the face of strong peer pressure.
A Gang problem In Hillsborough County?
Yes, gangs are a problem. As the popularity of gang membership increases, along with the sense of belonging that membership provides, we must take the threat of gangs seriously.
We realize that gangs significantly affect the increase in crime, and that they pose an ever present propensity for violent behavior.
Law enforcement, parents, and the community at large, must work as a team to find ways to prevent our youth from joining gangs rather then having to deal with them after it is too late.