Some 33,000 violent street gangs, motorcycle gangs and prison gangs with about 1.4 million members are criminally active in the U.S. and Puerto Rico today, according to the FBI.
Today's gangs are sophisticated and well organized, and are involved in illegal activities like robbery, drug and gun trafficking, prostitution and human trafficking, and fraud.
In order to achieve successful prosecutions, gang investigators need to be knowledgeable of the complexities of gang activity. In this police training video, LAPD Detective Wayne Caffey provides five tips for how police officers can become gang experts.
1. Record all the police training you receive in gang activity on your resume and memorize your qualifications so you can demonstrate why you are a gang expert when you testify in court.
2. In court, only give an opinion you are comfortable with. Once you are considered a gang expert and then say something you cannot back up, your credibility is destroyed.
3. Be prepared to educate the jury and judges on how gangs operate.
4. Be gang specific. For example, all LAPD gang officers are assigned to work with and know about specific gangs in order to develop expertise in gang-related behavior and activity.
5. Use your specialized skills, knowledge, training and intelligence to show why you are a gang expert.