NYPD to Boost Gang Unit Over Social Media Violence
by TOM HAYS
The New York Police Department is planning to double the size of its gang unit to 300 detectives to combat teen violence fueled by dares and insults traded on social media.
Rather than target established street gangs involved in the drug trade, the reinforcements will focus mainly on "looser associations of younger men who identify themselves by the block they live on, or on which side of a housing development they reside," Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said in prepared remarks.
"Their loyalty is to their friends living in a relatively small area and their rivalries are based not on narcotics trafficking or some other entrepreneurial interest, but simply on local turf," Kelly added. "In other words, 'You come in to my backyard and you get hurt. You diss my crew and you pay the price.'"
The remarks were provided in advance of Kelly's appearance Tuesday in San Diego at a gathering of the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
Under the new plan, the NYPD gang unit will work more closely with other divisions that monitor social media for signs of trouble.
Kelly cited a recent case in which investigators used Facebook to track a turf war between two Brooklyn crews named the Very Crispy Gangsters and the Rockstars. The case resulted in dozens of arrests for shootings and other mayhem.
"By capitalizing on the irresistible urge of these suspects to brag about their murderous exploits on Facebook, detectives used social media to draw a virtual map of their criminal activity over the last three years," Kelly said.
Detectives have seen instances where a gang member has taunted rivals by circulating a photo of himself posing in front of their apartment building. Orders of protection also have been posted as a means of intimidation, Kelly said.
The NYPD has developed strict guidelines for investigators using social networks "to instill the proper balance between the investigative potential of social network sites and privacy expectations," Kelly said.
The rules allow officers to adopt aliases for their online work as long as they first get permission from the department. They also will use special laptops that protect their anonymity.
Staffing for the expanded unit will come from gradual redeployment from other areas of the department, not from new hires.
Nearly $500k in federal anti-drug grants awarded to Saginaw prosecutor, Buena Vista PD, BAYANET
by Brad Devereaux
SAGINAW, MI — The Saginaw County Prosecutor's Office, Bay Area Narcotics Enforcement Team (BAYANET) and Buena Vista Police Department are among several Michigan criminal justice agencies awarded a total of $6.4 million in federal grant funds to strengthen anti-drug efforts in Michigan.
Another federal grant awarded today will allow young people in Saginaw attend the Michigan Youth Leadership Academy for free.
The Saginaw County Prosecuting Attorney's Office was awarded $248,922 for High-Crime Cities Prosecution Efforts, the Michigan State Police reports.
The Saginaw County Major Crimes Prosecution Project will work closely with the Michigan State Police, Saginaw Police and the Saginaw Sheriff's Department Major Crimes Task Forces to interdict and reduce violent crime in Saginaw by targeting investigations, prosecutions and enhanced sentencing of violent criminals who repeatedly commit the most violent and habitual serious crimes, the MSP reports.
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BAYANET will receive $181,580 to "efficiently investigate controlled substances violations and target major narcotics dealers within a six county region," according to the document.
Related: Saginaw Twp family angry after BAYANET breaks door, takes cash during marijuana raid
The Buena Vista Township Police Department was awarded $50,000 for Juvenile-Focused Community Policing/Community Prosecution.
"The department's Community Youth Initiative represents a proactive, problem-oriented intervention that combats juvenile delinquency within Buena Vista Township and neighboring Saginaw. This project will include youth mentoring and community service activities, prevention programs, and events that facilitate parent and community engagement," according to the grant award.
The Michigan State Police Training Division was awarded $124,995 for Juvenile-Focused Community Policing/Community Prosecution from a proposal that "seeks to positively impact Michigan's most dangerous cities by providing a mentoring and leadership program for at-risk youth in these communities."
The grant will allow young men and women, ages 14-16, from Flint, Detroit, Pontiac and Saginaw to attend the Michigan Youth Leadership Academy free of charge.
The Saginaw News is waiting to hear from local officials about expected impacts of the grants.
The funding is made possible through the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne JAG) Program and the Residential Substance Abuse Treatment for State Prisoners Program, according to the MSP.
The grants are named in honor of New York City Police Department Officer Edward Byrne. Byrne was fatally shot by drug traffickers in 1988 while on assignment protecting a witness in a drug case.
Byrne JAG funds support all aspects of the criminal justice system, and this year's awards focus on multijurisdictional drug task forces, priority population drug courts, data driven approaches to crime and traffic safety, juvenile-focused community policing/community prosecution and high-crime cities prosecution efforts.
Agencies receiving funding (view complete list) have until Sept. 30, 2013, to spend the awards.