Legitimacy and Law Enforcement: The Counterinsurgency Against Gang Crime in the United States
Fox, James Phillip
City gangs within the United States have evolved in the past several decades to become sophisticated organizations with clear objectives beyond random crimes and territorial protection. Upon returning from a couple of tours in Iraq, I discovered the manner in which gangs recruit and gain support from local communities is comparable to the activities of insurgent groups in Iraq and Afghanistan. If this observation is true, then combating gang crime is an exercise similar to counterinsurgency. Therefore, it involves a combination of conventional law enforcement and community engagement approximating non-lethal counterinsurgency methods. These outreach initiatives can supplement law enforcement by fostering a sense of inclusion and legitimacy of governance, law, and order in the eyes of the target populations, thereby targeting the gangs' pool of recruitment and support. This paper evaluates the effect of community investment and social inclusion for reducing domestic gang crime by illustrating the similarities between street gang activity in the US and insurgent activity in troubled states. I examine whether and how community policing influences gang crime and find that some of the initiatives by federal, state, local, and tribal governments to invest in community engagement have a significant influence on the number of incidents classified as gang crimes. The results indicate that this subject matter warrants further research.
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