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Gangs in NJ don’t know borders

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

EDITORIAL: The one area where the NJSP’s 2010 Street Gang Survey gets a little blurry is in individual reporting. For instance: Allendale and Alpine say “no gangs here.” Bergenfield and Bogota say yes. Predictably, Englewood says yes, Englewood Cliffs: no. Yet Closter, Cresskill, Norwood and Rockleigh say no, while both Tenafly and Demarest report gang presence.

So does Leonia, the so-called college town without a college.

And how about Lodi? No gangs in the town that had the last reported gang murder, although gangstas litter the report in Garfield, Hackensack, Little Ferry, South Hackensack and Moonachie.

Palisades Park? Nope. Same for neighboring Ridgefield. Ridgefield Park‘s got ‘em, though.

In Hudson County, everyone said “YES,” from Bayonne to West New York — except for Secaucus. For some reason, they don’t know. Neither does Emerson, Hillsdale or Park Ridge.

There’s plenty of positive news in the report: 38 of Bergen’s reporting municipalities said they didn’t have proof of gang presence, versus 29 who said they did, for one thing. That’s more than half the county. The three unknowns could’ve narrowed or widened the margin, though not considerably.

River Edge: yes. River Vale: no. Can buy that one.

But no gang signs in Dumont — even though the highest concentration in the county was in neighboring Bergenfield, with 160 gangstas reported, most claiming to belong to the Bloods.

A hundred Bloods have been tagged in Elmwood Park, and 80 in Englewood. The rest are an assortment of sets and subsets of Latin Kings, Dominicans Don’t Play, MS-13, Trintarios, Crips and others.

This is a tremendous undertaking by the State Police. And it raises many valid points.

Still, using municipal borders as dividing lines unfortunately — and unintentionally, it should be noted — obscures the breadth and depth of what’s become mandatory indoctrination for uneducated, undiscipined, wayward youth.

The 2010 Street Gang Survey is available as an Adobe PDF document at: IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONSabout it, email:

The NJSP began the triennial surveys in 2001, establishing out of the box that gangs aren’t an urban phenomenon. Kids and young adults — some dangerously serious, others desperate to belong — need little more than to gather in a bunch, do something illegal and have symbols and/or icons that signify their union.

The goal of the surveys has been to give lawmakers and others who shape public policy data to draw from; to help law enforcement agencies craft anti-gang strategies; and to give people a picture that is more reliable than scary headlines or isolated incidents.

The NJSP enlisted the University of Maryland for help in producing the online spreadsheets that allow anyone to zero in on what interests them most. For all the slanted, tilted, out of focus and downright misleading stories major media around here have produced, nothing is as pointed, precise and clarifying as this survey.

“This survey probes the collective law enforcement knowledge to cut to the core of what gangs mean to us all; what threats they pose and how their behavior is trending,” said the NJSP superintendent, Col. Rick Fuentes. “Its contents are requisite information for any police agency forming anti-gang strategy but accessible enough for any citizen concerned about the phenomenon of street gangs.”

You said it, Boss.

Of those municipalities not already mentioned:

Cliffside Park
East Rutherford
Elmwood Park
Fair Lawn
Fort Lee
East Newark
Jersey City
Union City

Franklin Lakes
Glen Rock
Harrington Park
Hasbrouck Heights
Midland Park
North Arlington
Old Tappan
Rochelle Park
Saddle Brook
Saddle River
Upper Saddle River
Washington Township
Woodcliff Lake

YOU CAN REPORT GANG ACTIVITY1-877-SGU-NJSP (1-877-748-6577) Confidentiality is assured.

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