Beware of “target of opportunity” moments
It’s important to use extra caution when patrolling territory contested by rival gang members. If personnel permit, you want at least three officers involved in gang contacts: one to serve as Contact Officer for dealing with the suspect(s), one to serve as the primary Cover Officer, watching the Contact Officer and the known suspect(s), and the third working as a secondary Cover Officer, watching the surrounding environment for threats.
The importance of this strategy was illustrated in an incident in the Midwest involving tac officers who stopped to question a known gang member. As they attempted to deal with this individual, two members of a rival gang, standing in a nearby alley, fired shots at the police car.
Officers fired back, hitting one suspect in the leg. A squad car responding to the scene was then fired on by other rival gang members.
Moral of the story: when it comes to gangs, you not only have to worry about the suspects you’re immediately concerned with, but also about their friends and their enemies, any of whom may seize upon your presence in the hood as a “target of opportunity.”