WNYC's Bob Hennelly is an award-winning investigative journalist. While at WNYC he has reported on a wide gamut of major public policy questions ranging from immigration and homeland security to power outages and utility mergers.
Gangs are present in all 21 counties in New Jersey and extends to urban, suburban and rural communities, an analysis by the state police revealed.
Four in 10 towns reported gang presence, and of the 565 towns surveyed, 45 percent reported gang activity -- an uptick from 43 percent in 2007, state police analysts said.
In its detailed census, the state police identified some 244 distinct gangs and 1,600 subsets: Essex (166), Monmouth (132), Middlesex (126), Ocean (114), Bergen (108), Camden (107), Burlington (101), Atlantic (97) and Union (95) counties topped the list for documented gang presence.
Half of the gangs identified had fewer than six members while 43 had more than 100. Analysts said Paterson had the most diverse gang profile with 23 gangs with a total enrolment of nearly 2,000 members.
Cops in one-third of the towns that reported gang presence told the state police they had seen an increase in gang activity in the past year. And local police in 30 towns that had not reported seeing gang activity before, reported some activity now.
While roughly half of the state’s school districts reported some gang presence, only 14 percent said that presence resulted in some criminal incident.
The state police survey is the fourth since 2001, and it recommends local police and school officials be better educated about gangs. Just 14 percent of the communities surveyed said there had been a gang related incident in their schools.
Gangs identified included the Latin Kings, Sex, Money Murder Bloods, Nine Tray Bloods, the Pagans Motor Cycle Club and MS-13.