In January 2004, the Sheboygan Police Department Gang Unit was upgraded to the Street Crimes Unit. The need for expanding the scope of the unit was due to the ever-changing atmosphere and mode of operations of criminal elements within the City of Sheboygan. The officers assigned to the Unit do not only concentrate on gang activity but also specialize in investigating property crimes (theft, burglary, graffiti, etc.), violent crime (robbery, assaults, etc.), and narcotic offenses.
These highly trained officers gather intelligence, perform undercover operations, and execute search warrants in order to combat crime.
The Unit frequently networks with outside agencies and recently joined forces with the federal U.S. Marshal’s Task Force. The “deputized” officers work closely with federal agents in order to locate wanted fugitives. The Unit was instrumental in incorporating Sheboygan County’s Most Wanted List that is published in the Plymouth Review and on this website. This endeavor has met with much success in apprehending wanted fugitives and could not be done without the public’s involvement.
The Unit recognizes the need for community involvement in order to “take back the streets” and encourages anyone with information on criminal activity to contact the Street Crimes Unit. The Unit is available for public presentations that concentrate on educating the public on gang activity and answering questions about criminal activity in a neighborhood.
The Sheboygan Police Department Street Crimes Unit:
(920) 459-0267 or (920) 459-0234
Any information provided to the Street Crimes Unit is confidential.
What is a Gang?
Street Gang membership encompasses all races from a variety of socioeconomic levels and is not limited to larger cities. Active prevention is now required virtually from the start of a child’s entry into the school system. A street gang is a group or association of three or more persons who may have a common identifying sign, symbol or name, and who individually or collectively engage in criminal activity.
What is Gang Activity?
Activities that gangs are involved in include fighting, vandalism, graffiti, armed robbery, weapon offenses, auto theft and drug dealing. Criminal Activity is usually committed by gang members to monetarily benefit the gang or an individual member.
What’s a Gang Structure?
Peer pressure plays an important role in a decision to join a gang. Gang members come from all walks of life. Some gang members have relatives who belong to a gang. Gang members are placed in the following categories:
Leaders- are usually the oldest members with extensive criminal backgrounds. They direct the activities and recruitment of gang members. Most of the high ranking officers in the gangs come from source cities, such as Chicago.
Hard-core members- are usually the most violent members of the gang with criminal backgrounds. They generally commit the more serious crimes and are behind the drug dealing trade for the gang. They intimidate the younger members of the gang and show them what is required to display loyalty to the gang.
Fringe or marginal members- are usually the youngest and newest members of the gang with little criminal background. They may have joined the gang or are thinking about joining. They may only be involved temporarily, on a limited basis, or they may progress into hard-core members.
Gang members use graffiti, hand signs, jewelry, tattoos, clothing and colors to signify their membership in a gang and to communicate their gang affiliation to others. Each gang has its own unique graffiti, signs and colors.
Hand Signs- are used to communicate within the gang and as a challenge to rival gangs. The signs are made by forming letters and/or numbers with fingers.
Tattoos – are used to mark ones body as an identifier indicating membership in a particular gang. The tattoos can include the name, initials, street of origin, or symbols of a gang.
Colors- Most gangs have particular colors that they use to identify themselves. Many of the gang members will frequently dress in these colors.
Clothing- Some gangs use particular sports team clothing to represent their gang by picking a team that uses the particular colors associated with the gang. They may also pick out a teams clothing because of the symbol represented by that team, such as the five pointed star used by the Dallas Cowboys. **Note: The wearing of particular items of clothing should not be used alone as an indication of gang involvement. Current clothing style imitate gang membership.
Jewelry- Gangs are usually divided into two groups, the folks and peoples. Jewelry with a six pointed star may indicate a membership with a gang related to the folks, while a five point star is associated with peoples.
Street Names- Members of gangs use street-names with each other. They are used to conceal identification from law enforcement.
What are Signs of Possible Gang Involvement?
1. Baseball caps worn distinctively to the left or the right.
2. Tattoos of stars, pitchforks, or unexplained symbols.
3. Jewelry, including rings, earrings, and necklaces with nicknames, stars, pitchforks or unexplained initials or symbols.
4. Money from an unexplained source.
5. Certain clothing with particular colors and sport team identification which are the only type a child will wear.
6. New friends that parents are not acquainted with and whom they are not allowed to meet.
7. Unexplained signs and symbols on books, folders, clothes, bedroom walls and personal belongings.
8. Truancy, poor progress or failing in school.
9. Frequent negative contacts with police.
What is Graffiti?
Gang members mark their territory with graffiti, similar to the way an animal marks its territory, however gang members do it by making pictures such as pitch forks, initials and symbols. The markings can range from simple to elaborate. Typically, graffiti is used to warn competing gangs that there is a threat of takeover. It is essential to remove graffiti as soon as possible. Business and property owners should be made aware of graffiti and encouraged to remove it as soon as possible, after it has been reported to your local law enforcement agency. To view some samples of gang graffiti that has been located in Sheboygan, look at the photo gallery below.
What Can You Do If You Suspect Your Child Is Involved In a Gang?
1. Don’t ignore your suspicions, talk to your child.
2. Watch for some of the signs mentioned previously.
3. Listen to conversations your child has with friends.
4. Check your child’s room periodically for signs and symbols.
5. Talk to your child’s teachers about your suspicions.
6. Divert your child’s attention away from friends unknown to you or you mistrust and into other activities.
7. Ask for help from the many community agencies.
8. Call the Street Crimes Unit. We will respond to your questions.
Do not think that a gang is just a phase. Older gang members use newer members by having them take most of the risk. Large quantities of drugs have been found on newer members, while older members refuse to associate with them when they get caught.
What Can You Do To Help Eliminate Gang Activity?
1. Report all crimes and gang activity to the police immediately.
2. Identify any suspects to the police, as well as any street names.
3. Remember that we cannot do the job alone, and we need the help of those in the community.
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Sgt. Scott Reineke