Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s office hosted a day of gang training in Roanoke last week to teach members of law enforcement, prosecutors, and community members about current gang trends while giving them the tools to recognize and report gang activity.
Presentation topics included:
- Gangs 101 – A history of gangs, how to recognize gang affiliation, and a detailed overview of several gangs in Virginia.
- Targeting Kids – Why kids join gangs and the manipulation gang recruiters use to entice them.
- Gangs and Human Trafficking – Just as gangs evolve their clothing, graffiti, and language, they also evolve their criminal enterprises. This was an overview of recent Virginia prosecutions of gang members for human trafficking in the involuntary sex and labor trade.
- Social Networking – How gang members use social media to recruit new members and commit crimes, including social networking sites like Facebook, and online games like Halo and World of Warcraft.
“Gangs aren’t just selling drugs and guns anymore,” said Cuccinelli. “They’re engaging in whatever crimes are profitable. These training sessions will help educate law enforcement about some of their new enterprises, including prostitution and human trafficking.”
Localities around Virginia have reported more than 830 gangs statewide, with an average age of recruitment of 12 years old.
The training sessions are part of the attorney general’s larger anti-gang initiative. Cuccinelli’s office, the Department of Criminal Justice Services, and the Virginia Gang Investigators Association partnered together to host the five day-long trainings around the commonwealth. Over the five sessions, staff from the attorney general’s office will train approximately 500 members of law enforcement, teachers, and prosecutors about gangs in Virginia and how to help kids avoid gang recruitment. The Roanoke seminar was conducted on May 24th.
“Like no other criminals, gang members target, manipulate, brainwash, and endanger kids,” Cuccinelli said.”We, as law enforcement and you as a community, must get to these kids before gang members can. These training sessions will teach law enforcement effective ways to reach kids and steer them away from the gang lifestyle. “
The Roanoke training was the second in a series of five taking place across the commonwealth. The first training was in Radford. The gang trainings will also be held in Newport News, Weyers Cave / Staunton and Alexandria.