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Learn Six Ways to Steer Clear of Gangs

February 1, 1996
Related Topics: Workplace Violence, Safety and Workplace Violence, Featured Article
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Here are six ways to steer clear of gangs:

  1. Never assume your company is immune.
    Gangs aren't lured only by high-tech equipment, and they're not just interested in selling drugs. Liquor, auto parts, clothing, even food are desired items. What's more, other employees often provide the perfect conduit for distributing illegal-and legal-contraband. Legitimate businesses owned by gangs include: restaurants, auto repair shops, pager outlets, clothing stores and day-care centers.
  2. Adopt tough screening procedures and conduct thorough background checks.
    Nothing weeds out a problem applicant faster than a solid background check. The money you spend per employee can greatly reduce the odds of problems. Gang members have become highly skilled at forging Social Security cards, driver's licenses and green cards. They rely on friends with legitimate businesses for references, and they move around the country to avoid detection. The broader the check you do, the better.
  3. Learn the signs and symbols that gangs use and educate employees.
    For some gang members, clothing and jewelry can serve as identifying marks. However, many gangs now are concealing their identities. Other more sophisti- cated gangs simply don't use traditional markings. Graffiti and hand signals may serve as warnings that gang members are present. Obviously, it's important for employees to know what to look for and to have a way to inform authorities-anonymously, if necessary.
  4. Stay in contact with local law enforcement agencies, and trade information with other companies.
    Police often know what methods gangs are using and what types of illegal activities they're conducting. If you suspect gang activity within your workplace, then it's best to consult with law enforcement officials. It's also a good idea to find out what other companies are experiencing and what methods they're using to keep thieves and gangsters out.
  5. Take security seriously.
    Video cameras, access cards, one-way turnstiles that allow only a single person to enter at a time, and trained security officers can make a difference. Gangs typically case a workplace before committing a crime. As a result, the more obstacles you're able to throw at them the more likely they are to go elsewhere.
  6. Adopt a zero-tolerance approach.
    A lax attitude can lead to enormous problems. Not only can it send a dangerous signal that the company is soft on crime, it also can lead to civil lawsuits from employees who are injured by another worker. Keep in mind that insurance companies might not pay a claim if they can prove that an employee should have been terminated for previous actions. Be prepared to prosecute and face the media, if necessary.

Personnel Journal, February 1996, Vol. 75, No. 2, p. 48.

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