The Department of Justice has made gang enforcement and the development of effective gang prevention programs a priority through several administrations. This data collection will be useful for federal, state, and local officials in the development and funding of gang enforcement programs. It will also be of use and interest to law enforcement agencies with already established gang units, those agencies considering the establishment of such units, and to researchers interested in topics ranging from the organization of police agencies to the law enforcement reaction to gang problems.
To establish the universe of gang units to be included in the CLEGU, researchers utilized a BJS list of all agencies with 100 or more sworn officers according to the 2003 Law Enforcement Management and Administrative Statistics (LEMAS) survey. The BJS list was merged with a list of all law enforcement agencies with 100 or more sworn officers purchased from the National Public Safety Information Bureau. After duplicates were removed, the agency list included 1,084 state and local police departments and sheriffs' offices nationwide with 100 or more sworn officers. From September through November 2006, researchers contacted each of the agencies to determine whether the agency had a dedicated street gang unit or at least one officer whose sole responsibility was to coordinate the agency's response to gangs.
Following these calls, 551 agencies did not appear to either have a specialized gang unit or gang officer and were considered out of scope for the study. A universe of 533 agencies was initially determined eligible to receive the CLEGU survey form. Eligible agencies received the data collection instrument based on stated preferences for delivery: link to an online data collection tool (320 agencies), facsimile of the questionnaire (197 agencies), and instrument sent via the United States Postal Service (16 agencies).
The 533 law enforcement agencies offices with 100 or more sworn officers and at least one officer dedicated solely to addressing gang problems received the CLEGU data collection instrument in March 2008. Ninety-two percent of these agencies (488) responded to the survey.
All state and local law enforcement agencies with 100 or more sworn officers and at least one officer dedicated solely to addressing gangs and gang activities in 2007.