Home
OGIA Board
Contact
Training
Links
Forms
Gangs by Region
News
Safety Alerts

Gang Awareness
Guide.
Download (PDF)


History of Street Gangs. Download

New Gangs 101 seminars listed in Training section


2011 NGTA-LES Emerging Trends. (2MB Download)

There is no hunting like the hunting of man, and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never care for anything else thereafter.
~Ernest Hemingway


 
 
Outlawing gangs is proposed



By MICK HINTON World Capitol Bureau
7/18/2008
Last Modified: 7/18/2008 2:19 AM

OKLAHOMA CITY A state representative said Thursday that he wants to outlaw gangs by passing a law to enable gang members to be charged with a misdemeanor.

Rep. Paul Wesselhoft, R-Oklahoma City, said he realizes that such a law might not pass constitutional muster.

The Oklahoma City Republican previously failed in getting a law passed to outlaw pit bulldogs because the attorney general said an entire breed could not be singled out.

Tim Hock, vice president of the Oklahoma Gang Investigators Association, said he strongly endorses Wesselhoft's efforts. Hock, an Oklahoma City police detective, said he could not speak for his department but only as an officer of the association.

"There's absolutely no reason why we should allow a gang to be legal," he said. "I don't think there is one good thing a street gang does."

Wesselhoft said allowing gang members to be charged with a misdemeanor would give officers the means to interrogate them about criminal activity in the community.

In 2007, Tulsa police identified 375 gang members, compared with 247 the year before.

Tulsa Police Chief Ron Palmer said, "There are various types of gangs outlaw motorcycle gangs,

white supremacy groups, Asian, Hispanic and African American gangs."

They can be identified by gang names, tattoos and, in some cases, the color of clothes they wear, officers said.

Hock estimates that the number of gang member is as many as 5,000 in Oklahoma City, 2,500 in Tulsa and 1,500 in Lawton, the three major cities where gangs are present.

Andrew Spiropoulos, a law professor at Oklahoma City University, said lawmakers "have to be very careful when they legislate gang membership as illegal, because under the First Amendment, a person cannot be prosecuted because they are a member of a group."

He said a person can be prosecuted only for conduct.

"Generally, what states and cities have done is that they usually attack some activity in addition to being a gang member," he said.