The Chicago Crime Commission has released its latest book of street gangs in the Chicago area that identifies about a thousand leaders and posts their mugshots over nearly 400 pages.
The book comes at a time when concerns have been raised across the country about gang databases being out of date, inaccurate and racially bias.
Andrew Henning, the commission’s vice president, said the principal editor and researcher for the “Gang Book” was Franco Domma, a gang investigator with the Cook County Sheriff’s Department. The information came from police departments and interviews with gang members, he said.
The commission estimates there are more than 50 gangs operating in the Chicago area with a membership of more than 100,000. The thousand named in the book are people considered by the commission to be top leaders.
– Tribune News Service
That’s almost double the 600 gang leaders featured in the book’s last edition in 2012, reflecting the increase in gang activity, Henning said.
“We’re not trying to demonize individuals but shed light on the worst of the worse, the alleged gang leaders,” he said.
“They’ve committed violent acts, they’ve committed atrocious acts in their community, and so we’re trying to highlight that violence and educate parents, teachers, law enforcement on the dangers that these individuals impose,” Henning said. “When these individuals are in the book, violence is stamped down.”
The book includes help for those trying to leave gangs. It provides information about tattoo removals, employment services and counseling, and addiction treatment services, Henning said.
When asked about the commission’s use of the Chicago Police Department’s database to show gang territories and other details, Henning said that was a question for a department, which was notably absent from the conference’s law enforcement line-up.
The department has said it is considering a more up-to-date version of its database from current intelligence, police chief spokesman Anthony Guglielmi has told the Tribune.
Information for the book also came from a 2016 suburban police department survey and reports by the University of Chicago’s Crime Lab.
The book names 59 active Chicago gangs and includes updated gang-turf maps. It lists more than 2,400 gang factions that have sprung with the arrests of prominent gang leaders, the dismantling of public housing and gentrification.
It also notes that Chicago gangs have kept expanding into suburbs. Of 122 suburban police departments that responded to a Chicago Crime Commission survey, 80 said gangs were in their communities. The Latin Kings, Gangster Disciples, Surenos 13, Maniac Latin Disciples and Vice Lords have the largest suburban presence.
The book also goes into gang culture on social media, which include taunts to rival gangs on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and YouTube, according to the commission survey. Gangs also widely use Kik and WhatsApp.
Police in the suburb of Cicero say 70 percent of gang conflict stem from exchanges on social media.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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