The New Jersey Criminal Code defines a Street Gang as:

“three or more people who are associated in fact. Individuals are associated in fact if: (1) two of the following seven criteria that indicate criminal street gang membership apply: (a) self-proclamation; (b) witness testimony or official statement; (c) written or electronic correspondence; (d) paraphernalia or photographs; (e) tattoos; (f) clothing or colors; (g) any other indicia of street gang activity; and (2) individually or in combination with other members of a criminal street gang, while engaging in gang related activity, have committed or conspired to commit, within the preceding five years from the date of the present offense, excluding any period of imprisonment, one or more offenses on separate occasions of robbery, carjacking, aggravated assault, assault, aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault, arson, burglary, kidnapping, extortion, tampering with witnesses or informants, criminal homicide or certain drug offenses. (N.J.S.A. 2C:33-29a).”

How can I tell if my child is in a gang?

Know your child’s friends and with whom and where they are spending their free time. The following questions may give you a good indication that your child may be involved with a street gang. Does your child always wear a certain color or the same piece of clothing? Has your child abruptly changed their style of dress and the people that they associate with? Has your child affected a new style of talking?

What should I do if I think my child is in a gang or about to join a gang? What if my child is the victim of gang intimidation?

Notify your local law enforcement agency or the Prosecutor’s Office Gang Intelligence Unit and ask for someone to speak to you and your child.

Are gangs mainly comprised of disadvantaged youths?

Gang members can live in any one of Monmouth County’s 53 municipalities. Membership is not limited to any socioeconomic group. Members have been identified from a wide variety of communities in Monmouth County.

Are gangs racially segregated?

Generally gangs are made up of a member’s peer group and can vary from a racially exclusive to a racially mixed group.

Are gang members armed? What type of weapons do they carry?

Gang members sometimes arm themselves. Types of weapons range from opportunistic weapons, such as baseball bats, to firearms.

How do kids join gangs?

The two most common ways into a street gang are either committing a crime in front of another member of the gang or by being “beat in”. This is an initiation act in which the prospective member is beaten by members of the gang to prove their courage and toughness.

What is Graffiti?

It is a good indication of a street gang’s presence in your area. Street Gangs will use graffiti to mark their area from rival gangs. Graffiti often provides the law enforcement community with valuable information on gang activity.

What should I do if I see graffiti or become aware of any gang activity in my community?

Notify your local law enforcement agency or the Prosecutor’s Office at (732) 431-7160 and ask for the Gang Investigation Unit so that the graffiti can be photographed and its underlying meaning can be interpreted by trained law enforcement officers.