By Thomas Lemmer, Gad Bensinger and Arthur Lurigio. Published in Volume 9, Issue 5 (pp. 417-430) of the journal Police Practice and Research in December 2008.
In response to Chicago’s well‐documented gang problem, the Chicago Police Department (CPD) established its first specialized gang unit in 1967. In the ensuing decades, the CPD reorganized its core gang unit several times and expanded its anti‐gang response through numerous supporting restructuring efforts.
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The Chicago experience indicates that reorganization can positively and negatively influence the relative effectiveness of the police response to gangs. As such, the lessons for police departments are twofold: be careful when restructuring, particularly when adapting for reasons not tied to the actual gang problem; but reorganize whenever necessary to address rising gang violence.
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