Mayor's Anti-Gang Office and Gang Task Force -- Houston, TX
Program Type or Federal Program Source:
Gang intervention and prevention programs.
To reduce juvenile and gang-related crime and violence through partnerships with law enforcement, criminal justice agencies, schools, and youth service providers.
Specific Groups Targeted by the Strategy:
Criminal street gangs and at-risk juveniles.
Geographical Area Targeted by the Strategy:
Internal data collection.
Kim Ogg, Director
Mayor's Anti-Gang Office, City of Houston
P.O. Box 1562
Houston, TX 77251
Years of Operation:
In response to the rise in gang-related crime in the early 1990's, Houston's mayor instituted an Anti-Gang Office and Gang Task Force. The office's mission is to develop a comprehensive mechanism to reduce gang-related violence and crime. To meet this goal, the office has implemented prevention, intervention, and suppression program partnerships with law enforcement, criminal justice agencies, schools, youth service providers, and the public. No additional costs are incurred by taxpayers because the office utilizes existing resources. The office coordinates citywide antigang efforts, including gathering and sharing information on gang activity, crime prevention, and gang abatement. Many programs involve innovative collaborations that include the following:
- The Anti-Gang Office developed a computerized gang geomapping and tracking system to identify the location of gangs and gang gun violence in the city, and to locate existing youth program resources. This system helps identify hotspots of gang-related crime and necessary youth services.
- The Gang Offender Probation Program was developed to improve judicial oversight of gang members on probation by partnering probation and law enforcement officers for increased supervision. More intensive probation requirements were imposed on gang members, including participation in gang offender treatment programs. Through close monitoring of the activities of gang members under supervision, the courts are able to provide more assistance to first-time offenders.
- The Anti-Gang Office initiated a community service program whereby juvenile probationers clean up graffiti-vandalized sites and maintain city facilities and vehicles. Since its implementation in 1994, 6,482 graffiti-vandalized sites have been cleaned. In 1997, 2,833 hours of community service, including rectifying graffiti-vandalized sites, were served by adult and
juvenile probationers. The Anti-Gang Office and the Houston Paint and Coatings Association have donated more than 10,000 gallons of recycled paint for graffiti abatement.
- The Gang Education Awareness Resistance (GEAR) program is a partnership between the Anti-Gang Office, the school district, and two police departments. GEAR trains school personnel, including school administrators, to recognize gang activity on school campuses and provides a model for notifying parents and police when criminal activity is identified.
- The Gang-Related Information Tracking System is a regional gang intelligence data base serving more than 50 Houston area law enforcement agencies. This program identifies Houston area gangs and provides information on gang members and gang vehicles. Mobile Data Terminals also are used, supplying an added security measure for patrol officers participating in inquiries related to a suspect's criminal background.
Several local youth service providers have received funding from the Mayor's Anti-Gang Office to engage in suppression, intervention, and prevention activities related to gang violence. The Association for the Advancement of Mexican Americans' Gang Prevention Program, for example, provides legal education and individual counseling to troubled youth, facilitates program participation and alternative activities, sustains intervention planning, and provides student services ranging from tutoring and drug abuse counseling to HIV testing and financial aid. In 1997, roughly 62 youth between the ages of 13 and 17 completed this program and reported that the experience had significantly affected them.
In 1997, the percentage of juveniles accused of murder declined 23.1 percent from 1996, rape convictions declined by 5.7 percent, robbery convictions declined by 10 percent, aggravated assault convictions declined by 14.2 percent, and overall violent crimes declined by 11.6 percent.
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