Gang Members Leave Chicago, Find Small Town Havens

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As Chicago cracks down on gangs, gang members are moving to smaller towns, reports Illinois Issues. “Like the old-time gypsies,” says one Chicago street cop, “when it gets too hot, they move away from the heat and out of town.” The migration is discernible to destination towns that are starting to become concerned about this influx of outsiders.

Chicago’s straight-talking new chief of patrol, James Maurer, has 10,000 troops under his command tell gang members that the police will make it so unprofitable for you to operate a dope spot on the street that you will have no choice but to move to Iowa.

Gang leaders, say some experts “want to be anonymous. That’s why they started moving out, where nobody knows them or what they are doing.

They don’t drive flamboyant cars. Instead, they often rent them. They buy nice houses whose lawns are mowed. They look like a working guy and don’t want to attract attention. When they move out to the suburbs, or a smaller town, they aren’t touching the drugs themselves that much, so it’s hard to catch them.”

Gangs have evolved over decades from social to corporate, says John Firman, director of research for the International Association of Chiefs of Police. “In the major cities, where there have traditionally been gangs, the police have gang units and [have] learned more and developed some savvy, so the logical question for the gang leader is, ‘Where can I go and get out of the spotlight?’ Especially when you have a big brawny police force after you. They move to the smaller town. The problem is there are 14,000 police departments in America with less than 24 officers. They are scraping for resources. How are they going to deal with the gang problem?”

Link: http://illinoisissues.uis.edu/features/2004apr/gangs.html

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