Knocking Gangs Off the Network
WHEN IT COMES TO STREET GANGS, “network analysis” has nothing to do with identifying risks in computer systems but rather with analyzing the pattern of social relationships among gangs and individual members. In an innovative program, the North Jersey Gang Task Force has been using network analysis to combat the gang problem in Newark.
Partnering with Rutgers University, which has provided free access to graduate students and researchers, the task force has been documenting relationships among gang members, such as which ones hang out together and which have been incarcerated together. Among other things, the analysis has revealed differing levels of “embeddedness” on the part of specific gang members, indicating that different tactics for intervention are necessary for particular gang members. “Cut points”—people who are the only connection among people or groups—have been identified as potentially ideal targets for disrupting gangs.