Gangs are more than the graffiti on the wall.
Gangs are a culture of drugs and alcohol, violence, intimidation and retaliation.
That’s what Det. Shannon Todd and Det. Lisa Schwerin of the Newark Police Department’s Special Enforcement Team taught the Citizen Police Academy last Wednesday.
The Special Enforcement Team’s main focus is to suppress gangs and narcotics.
So what kinds of gangs are there in Newark?
The most active gangs in Newark, much like the rest of the Tri-City, are Norteno gangs that associate with the color red and the number 14.
There are two sets of Norteno gangs in town: Young Newark Locos and Crazy Newark Pitz (CNP). Most Norteno gang members are Hispanic, but it is not uncommon to see someone of a different race in a Norteno gang.
Some Sureno gangs are in the Tri-City, particularly in Fremont. Some known sets are the Psycho Wicked Surenas, an all-girl gang, and the Surenos Pocos Locos. Surenos associate with the color blue and the number 13.
The rivalry between the Sureno and Nortenos stems back to prison days when southerners (or Surenos) formed the Mexican Mafia. To retaliate, the northerners (or Nortenos) formed Nuestra Familia, which means "Our Family" in Spanish.
Bakersfield is the general line between the territories of the Surenos and Nortenos. Most Hispanic gangs from Northern California are thus associated with Nortenos while gangs south of Bakersfield are more likely to be Sureno gangs, officers said.
There are many reasons behind why people join gangs. Some possible reasons are learning disabilities, school failure and truancy, having no involvement in positive activities outside of school, having friends or peers who are delinquent, involvement in petty theft and behavioral disorders at a young age and coming from a low-income home.
Officers said that parents play the most “pivotal role” in keeping children away from gangs and that support from families, schools and police is needed to deal with gang issues.
Gang members often listen to gang-influenced music and watch gang-related videos and movies, and officers urge parents to look for these kinds of signs if gang activity is expected.
The community can get involved is by removing or reporting graffiti. Volunteers with the Graffiti Abatement team are often known for getting rid of the writings on the walls. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how you can join their efforts.
Police also encourage residents to report suspicious activities, suspicious people loitering and questionable activities, particularly in parks such asand parks.
To report problems, call 510-578-4237. Anonymous tips can be called into the police department’s Anonymous Tip Hotline can call 510-578-4965.