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The Augusta County Sheriff’s Office Gang Investigator provides full-time attention to the enforcement of gang related offenses. This Investigator operates as part of the WASSP (Waynesboro, Augusta, Staunton and State Police) Task Force. The Task Force investigates gang members and related criminal offenses in Augusta County and surrounding jurisdictions. These Investigators are committed to stemming gang violence and criminal gang participation in the Shenandoah Valley.

Blue Ridge Region 

Recognizing and Preventing Gang Involvement 
Gangs are groups of people who form an allegiance for a common purpose and commit violent, unlawful or criminal activities. Street gangs may claim control over a certain territory in their community, and create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation there. Many kids join gangs to have a sense of belonging. They also may be seeking structure, discipline and protection and may also join for fun, excitement or because of peer pressure. Gangs can develop anywhere. Males and females are involved and all races are involved. When looking at warning signs, you should look for multiple signs to indicate possible involvement because some factors alone, such as clothing or musical preferences are also common in youth not involved in gangs. 

Warning Signs for Gang Involvement 
• Admits to gang involvement or to “hanging out” with people in gangs
• Is obsessed with one particular color of clothing or shows a desire for a particular logo over and over
• Wearing of or in possession of bandanas (called flags)
• Use of hand signs while with friends and may practice them at home
• Has specific or peculiar drawings or gang symbols/graffiti on books, clothing, walls, desks, etc.
• Negative changes in attitude and behavior toward family, school and authorities
• Changes in likes, dislikes, peer group
• Carries a weapon-wants protection
• Has a new nickname
• Wants excessive privacy
• Particular tattoos or burn marks – 3 dots in the shape of a triangle, crowns, stars, pitchforks, etc.
• Evidence of drug or alcohol abuse
• Use of unknown vocabulary – street/gang slang
• Has unexplained cash or goods, such as clothing or jewelry
• Changing appearance, with special haircuts, eyebrow markings, jewelry with distinctive designs, tattoos
• Has an unusual interest in gangster-influenced music, videos, movies or websites
• Unexplained physical injuries – such as being beaten or having fighting related injuries
• Decline in school attendance, performance or behavior
• Staying out late without reason
• Has been in trouble with the police 

What Can I do to Prevent Gang Involvement 
• Know who your child’s friends are and also get to know their families
• Listen to conversations of your children, their friends and others around you
• Get involved in your child’s activities and spend quality time with your child
• Encourage your child to participate in positive after school activities with adult supervision
• Impress upon your child the importance of school and good grades
• Establish rules and structure, set limits, and be consistent in discipline
• Teach your child how to cope with peer pressure
• Notify law enforcement of graffiti or anything suspicious particularly in areas where children congregate
• Be aware of what influence the media (TV, music, magazines, internet) has on your child
• Be a positive role model for your child

Talk To Your Child About the Dangers and Consequences of:
• Gang involvement and activity
• Associating with gang members
• Attending parties or social events sponsored by gangs
• Using hand signs, symbols or language that is meaningful to gangs
• Wearing clothing or colors which may have specific meaning to gangs
• Writing graffiti or “hanging out” in areas where graffiti is present

Resources

  • Office on Youth
    540.332.3806
  • 25th District Court Service Unit
    Juvenile Intake, Probation & Parole
    540.245.5315
  • Staunton Police Department
    540.332.3842
  • Waynesboro Police Department
    540.942.6675
  • Augusta County Sheriff’s Office
    540.245.5333


Last updated: 2/28/2008 10:43:10 AM