NYPD Doubling Gang Unit, Thanks to Facebook Fights

Social media taunts leading to real turf war battles, says chief

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Oct 2, 2012 2:40 PM CDT

(Newser) – The NYPD is doubling the size of its gang unit—not because of an increase in established gangs, but because of growing problems with "looser associations" of teens who engage in real violence after first sparring over Facebook and other social media, the AP reports. These groups "identify themselves by the block they live on, or on which side of a housing development they reside," said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly when announcing the expansion to 300 detectives.

Their rivalries are not based on the drug trade, but rather "local turf," he added. "In other words, 'You come in to my backyard and you get hurt. You diss my crew and you pay the price.'" The newly expanded gang unit will monitor social media for hints of impending trouble, like taunting pictures of teens on rival turf. In one recent case, investigators tracked a turf war via Facebook and ended up arresting dozens that were involved in shootings and other illegal activities, thanks in part to "the irresistible urge of these suspects to brag about their murderous exploits on Facebook," Kelly said.

In this Jan. 27, 2012 file photo, New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly speaks to reporters during a news conference in New York.
In this Jan. 27, 2012 file photo, New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly speaks to reporters during a news conference in New York.   (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)
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