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National Assessment Survey of Law Enforcement Anti-Gang Information Resources, 1990-1991 (ICPSR 6237) RSS

Principal Investigator(s):

Summary:

This study constituted a systematic national assessment of local law enforcement perceptions of the distribution of gang and gang-like problems in large cities in the United States, law enforcement reactions to gangs, and their policies toward gang problems. One purpose of the study was to examine changes in law enforcement perceptions of the U.S. gang problem that have occurred since NATIONAL YOUTH GANG INTERVENTION AND SUPPRESSION SURVEY, 1980-1987 (ICPSR 9792) was undertaken. The overall goal was to obtain as "conservative" as possible an estimate of the magnitude of the gang problem in the United States as reflected by the official reaction, record-keeping, and reporting of local law enforcement agencies. The agencies were asked to refer the interviewer to the individual representative of the agency who could provide the most information about the agency's processing of information on gangs and other youth-based groups engaged in criminal activity. To obtain each law enforcement agency's official, not personal, perspective on gang problems, anonymity was intentionally avoided. Each respondent was first asked whether the respondent's agency officially identified a "gang problem" within their jurisdiction. Gangs were defined for this study as groups involving youths engaging in criminal activity. Respondents were then asked if their department officially recognized the presence of other kinds of organized groups that engaged in criminal activity and involved youths and that might be identified by their department as crews, posses, or some other designation. Based on affirmative answers to questions on the officially recognized presence of gangs and the kinds of record-keeping employed by their departments, agencies were sent customized questionnaire packets asking for specifics on only those aspects of the gang problem that their representative had reported the agency kept information on. Variables include city name, state, ZIP code, whether the city participated in National Youth Gang Intervention and Suppression Survey, 1980-1987, and, if so, if the city reported a gang problem. Data on gangs include the number of homicides and other violent, property, drug-related, and vice offenses attributed to youth gangs and female gangs, total number of gang incidents, gangs, gang members, female gang members, and gangs comprised only of females for 1991, number of juvenile gang-related incidents and adult gang-related incidents in 1991, number of drive-by shootings involving gang members or female gang members in 1991, and numbers or percent estimates of gang members by ethnic groups for 1990 and 1991. Respondents also indicated whether various strategies for combating gang problems had been attempted by the department, and if so, how effective each of the crime prevention measures were.

Access Notes

  • These data are freely available.

Dataset(s)

DS1:  Data File - Download All Files (0.6 MB)
Documentation:
DS2:  SAS Data Definition Statements - Download All Files (0.1 MB)
Data:

ASCII + SAS Setup
DS3:  Data Collection Instrument in PDF Format
Documentation:
Download:
No downloadable data files available.

Study Description

Citation

Curry, G. David, Robert J. Fox, Richard A. Ball, and Darryl Stone. NATIONAL ASSESSMENT SURVEY OF LAW ENFORCEMENT ANTI-GANG INFORMATION RESOURCES, 1990-1991. Conducted by West Virginia University, Dept. of Sociology and Anthropology. ICPSR06237-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [producer and distributor], 1996. http://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR06237.v1

Persistent URL:

Export Citation:

  • RIS (generic format for RefWorks, EndNote, etc.)
  • EndNote XML (EndNote X4.0.1 or higher)

Funding

This study was funded by:

  • United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (91-IJ-CX-K003)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:   cities, crime, gang members, gang violence, gangs, juvenile gangs, law enforcement agencies

Geographic Coverage:   United States

Time Period:  

  • 1990--1991

Date of Collection:  

  • 1992

Unit of Observation:   Police departments.

Universe:   Police departments in United States cities with populations near 200,000 and above.

Data Types:   survey data

Data Collection Notes:

(1) The data collection instrument is provided as an electronic image file in Portable Document File (PDF) format. The PDF format was developed by Adobe Systems Incorporated and can be accessed using the Adobe Reader. Information on how to obtain a copy of the Adobe Reader is provided in the README file on the diskette version of this study and through the NACJD Web Pages on the Internet. The data collection instrument is also available in hardcopy form upon request from ICPSR. (2) Eleven counties provided information to the 1992 gang survey. The county list was selected from the list of counties contacted in the National Youth Gang Intervention and Suppression Survey, 1980-1987. However, the county data are not included in this data collection.

Methodology

Study Purpose:   This study constituted a systematic national assessment of local law enforcement perceptions of the distribution of gang and gang-like problems in large cities in the United States, law enforcement reactions to gangs, and their policies toward gang problems. Specifically, this study had seven goals: (1) to generate an updated national profile of the geographic distribution of gang problems in large cities as measured by official reaction by local law enforcement agencies, (2) to examine changes in law enforcement perceptions of the U.S. gang problem that have occurred since NATIONAL YOUTH GANG INTERVENTION AND SUPPRESSION SURVEY, 1980-1987 (ICPSR 9792) was undertaken, and, to the extent possible, earlier national surveys, (3) to evaluate the quality of information resources used by law enforcement in assessing the scope of local gang problems, (4) to present the information available on age, gender, race, and ethnicity of gang members as perceived in law enforcement records, (5) to examine the degree to which law enforcement responses to the gang problem are institutionalized at the local level, (6) to assess what networks exist on local and national levels that enhance or have the potential for enhancing the distribution and sharing of accurate information on the scope of gang problems at local and national levels, and (7) to report the application and perceived effectiveness of selected anti-gang response strategies by local law enforcement agencies. The overall goal was to obtain as "conservative" as possible an estimate of the magnitude of the gang problem in the United States as reflected by the official reaction, record-keeping, and reporting of local law enforcement agencies.

Study Design:   For each police department in the survey, the address of the senior official, usually a chief of police or police commissioner, was obtained. Each received a letter from the project's principal investigator and a letter from the federal funding agency describing the project and encouraging participation. Each administrator was asked to refer the interviewer to the individual representative of the agency who could provide the most information about the agency's processing of information on gangs and other youth-based groups engaged in criminal activity. To obtain the law enforcement agency's official, not personal, perspective on gang problems, anonymity was intentionally avoided. Respondents were instructed that the names of contacts within each police department would be listed in technical reports produced for dissemination by the funding agency. Following the methodology of all previous national-level surveys of gang problems, the respondent was first asked whether the respondent's agency officially identified a "gang problem" within their jurisdiction. This question created a de facto three-component limitation on how gangs were defined for this study: gangs (1) are groups, (2) involve youths, and (3) engage in criminal activity. Respondents were clearly informed that the study excluded motorcycle gangs, hate groups, prison gangs, and organized crime groups. Beyond these intentional exclusions, this approach allowed the study to encompass differences in local definitions of what is regarded as a "gang." Following the specific question about official recognition of the presence of gangs, respondents were asked if their department officially recognized the presence of other kinds of organized groups that engaged in criminal activity and involved youths and that might be identified by their department identified as crews, posses, or some other designation. Respondents whose answers were negative to both of these questions were thanked for their time and asked no further questions. Respondents whose answers were affirmative to either of the above questions were asked a sequence of other questions on record-keeping procedures to determine their eligibility for participation in other parts of the survey. The departmental administrator for each of the respondents was sent a letter of appreciation and a computer printout confirming the identity of the gang information contact for their department and the official responses. All administrators and respondents were invited to contact the project with updated information if their departmental status changed. Based on their affirmative answers to questions on the officially recognized presence of gangs and the kinds of record-keeping employed by their departments, respondents were sent customized questionnaire packets and a separate letter by overnight registered mail reasserting the importance of the study and the need for a cooperative response. Departments were asked for specifics on only those aspects of the gang problem that their representative had reported the agency kept information on. All departments indicating the officially recognized presence of a gang problem (regardless of reported record-keeping procedures) were asked to complete a definitional questionnaire and a strategy effectiveness questionnaire.

Sample:   All cities in the United States with 1990 Bureau of the Census projected populations over 200,000, 43 smaller cities that had been included in NATIONAL YOUTH GANG INTERVENTION AND SUPPRESSION SURVEY, 1980-1987 (ICPSR 9792), and Shreveport, LA, Jackson, MS, and Mobile, AL.

Data Source:

telephone interviews and self-enumerated questionnaires

Description of Variables:   Geographic identifiers include city name, state, and ZIP code. Information is also provided about whether the city participated in the National Youth Gang Intervention and Suppression Survey, 1980-1987, and if so, if the city reported a gang problem. Data on gangs include whether the department reported a gang or gang-like problem or the presence of crews or posses, the number of homicides and other violent, property, drug-related, and vice offenses attributed to youth gangs and female gangs, total number of gang incidents, total number of gangs, gang members, female gang members, and gangs comprised only of females for 1991, number of juvenile gang-related incidents and adult gang-related incidents in 1991, number of drive-by shootings involving gang members or female gang members in 1991, and numbers or percent estimates of gang members by ethnic groups for 1990 and 1991, including White, Black (African-American, Jamaican, Other), Hispanic (Mexican-American, Puerto-Rican, Salvadoran, Other), Asian (Vietnamese, Chinese, Filipino, Other), or other. Each department's definition of a gang was provided through responses to the 25-item definitional questionnaire. Respondents also indicated whether any of 22 different strategies for combating gang problems had been attempted by the department and, if so, how effective each of the crime prevention measures were.

Response Rates:   All of the law enforcement agencies selected for the study were contacted.

Presence of Common Scales:   None.

Extent of Processing:  ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Standardized missing values.
  • Performed recodes and/or calculated derived variables.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.

Version(s)

Original ICPSR Release:  

Version History:

  • 2005-11-04 On 2005-03-14 new files were added to one or more datasets. These files included additional setup files as well as one or more of the following: SAS program, SAS transport, SPSS portable, and Stata system files. The metadata record was revised 2005-11-04 to reflect these additions.

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