JOINT JUVENILE GANG INTERVENTION UNIT
The Joint Juvenile Gang Intervention Unit was established in the spring of 2006, following the gang-related murder of an Austin High School student as he got off the school bus in his neighborhood in the fall of 2005. Following the murder, The City of Austin, Travis County, and Austin ISD, along with members of the community, formed a Blue Ribbon Panel to examine and address the issue of gang violence in Austin and within the Austin school district.
The Panel determined that strict law enforcement, though historically effective in dealing with crime that has already occurred, should be only part of a larger plan to prevent gang membership and significantly decrease gang-related violence. The panel recommended the formation of a task force, whose core members would be law enforcement officers, but whose responsibility would be to reach out to other community resources and form a team that would combat gang issues through education, prevention, and intervention, in addition to traditional law-enforcement based suppression strategies. The Joint Juvenile Gang Intervention Unit (JJGIU) was formed as a result of the Blue Ribbon Panel's recommendation.
The JJGIU currently consists of two Detectives from the Austin Police Department's Gang Suppression Unit, and one Detective and one Gang Specialist Officer from the Austin ISD Police Department.
A primary function of the JJGIU is assisting schools and individual families in dealing with at-risk youth, who may be becoming involved in gang activity. The unit also provides gang activity assessments at local schools, and has helped standardize the AISD policy for dealing with gang-related activity on its campuses. The unit gives gang awareness presentations to parent and community groups, neighborhood associations, churches, and community centers. The JJGIU also provides training to school district personnel, law enforcement, probation and parole, courts, and other governmental agencies.
In 2007, the unit introduced the nationally recognized Gang Resistance Education and Training (GREAT) program at three AISD Middle Schools. GREAT is a curriculum-based program developed through the Federal Bureau of Justice Assistance, and targets children in 4th - 8th grade. The program is taught in the classroom by uniformed officers, and teaches children skills to help them avoid ever becoming involved in gangs, violence, crime, and drugs. The program will be expanding into several elementary schools for the 2008-2009 school year. For more information on the GREAT program, please visit their website at: www.great-online.org.
The Joint Juvenile Gang Intervention Unit is also currently involved in the development of a regional gang database that will be shared by law enforcement agencies throughout Central Texas. Eventually, the database will have a component that is visible to the public and will provide general information that will assist the public in visualizing where gang crime is occurring throughout the area. The unit is also in the process of forming a Crisis Response Team, which will consist of officers, counselors, mediators, and other community members who will respond to schools and areas of the community where gang violence is occurring or is anticipated.
The Joint Juvenile Gang Unit strives to be an effective tool in preventing gang involvement, intervening with families and communities facing gang-related issues, and providing law enforcement and additional services to address other gang-related issues in the school and community.
Joint Juvenile Gang Intervention UnitAISD Police Department
1111 W. 6th Street, C-120
Austin, TX 78703