Gangs

Arlington County Police Department Gang Unit 703-228-4100

Gang tip hotline 703-228-GANG (4264)

Your information is extremely valuable and anonymous

All reports received on the tip hotline are kept confidential

Note: If you wish to be contacted by a police investigator, you must leave your name and contact number during the phone message.

Should you need immediate assistance for a crime in progress, dial 9-1-1

About the Gang Unit

The Arlington County Police Department started devoting police officers to address gang issues in 1993 as a response to an increase in gang-related crime. The Gang Unit is committed to providing a comprehensive, balanced approach to reduce violence and gang activity.

The Gang Unit investigates gang-related crime, provides street level gang enforcement, gathers intelligence and performs gang specific training for patrol officers.

Gang investigations and enforcement are handled by the Gang Unit within the Organized Crime Section. This unit consists of one sergeant and four detectives. The Arlington County Police Department Gang Unit participates with the Northern Virginia Gang Task Force.

Activities

The Gang Unit has documented gang members involved in most types of criminal activity. These crimes include, but are not limited to, homicide; robbery; aggravated assault; burglary; assault; destruction of property; theft; and the distribution of narcotics.

Potential Signs of Gang Involvement

  • Specific colors or emblems on jackets, hats, etc.
  • Special hand signals
  • Unique tattoo symbols and lettering
  • Gang symbols on walls (such as graffiti), books or clothing
  • Clothing (hats, bandannas, etc.) suggesting group or gang involvement
  • Possession of unexplained large sums of money
  • Changes in attitude: violent reactions, disruptive behavior, refusal to respect authority (teachers, police, parents), etc.
  • Secretive behavior regarding activities and locations
  • Changes in friends or friends who are not brought home
  • Truancy or poor school performance
  • Phone calls from individuals who either refuse to identify themselves, give unusual nicknames or use a nickname to identify your child
  • Negative contact with school officials and law enforcement officers
  • Involvement with known or suspected gang members
  • Interest in or possession of weapons (guns, knives, etc.)

Gang Prevention

  • Talk with and listen to your children. Schedule quality and quantity time with each child.
  • Place a high value on education, help your children do their best in school and do everything possible to prevent them from dropping out. Take an active interest in education and grades.
  • Help your children identify positive role models and heroes, especially people in your neighborhood.
  • Don’t be a “Do as I say, not as I do!” kind of parent.
  • Do everything possible to involve your child in supervised, positive group activities.
  • Praise your children for doing well and encourage them to fully develop skills.
  • Know what your children do and with whom.
  • Know who your children’s friends are and their parents.
  • Don’t forget to talk about gangs — the best time is before there’s a major problem.
  • Don’t allow your children to have large amounts of unobligated time. Have them participate in organized activities (“hanging out” is not an organized activity).
  • Look at your children’s schoolbooks and book bags for gang drawings.
  • Tell your children that you:
    • Disapprove of gangs
    • See them as special and worth protecting
    • Don’t want to see them hurt or arrested
    • Want to help with their problems
    • And your entire family shouldn’t keep secrets from each other
    • And other parents are working together against gangs

Keeping Your Neighborhood Gang-Free

  • Develop positive alternatives. What activities currently exist for after-school involvement? What can you do to support them? What recreational facilities exist for your people? Support positive youth-related activities such as sports, scouting, social clubs, church groups and after-school programs.
  • Support anti-crime programs such as crime and delinquency programs that discourage gang involvement. Invite efforts in your community to combat graffiti and vandalism. Keep your community pleasant, neat and safe.
  • Take a zero-tolerance stand on any gang-related activity and share your view whenever and wherever appropriate.