Levels of Individual Gang Involvement

Gang membership may involve different levels of commitment and participation for each individual.  The type of commitment and participation in the street gang needs to be delineated to establish a level of membership for each identified participant.

Level I - Make Believe

  • Knows individual gang members, but does not associate with them

  • May like, respect, admire or imitate a gang, gang member, or gang lifestyle

  • Knows about gangs - via newspapers, internet, movies, television

  • Sees individual gang members as "Living in a dream world."

  • (This level may represent 10% of the actual gang membership

Level II - At Risk

  • Casually and occasionally associates with gang members

  • May like, respect admire the gang lifestyle but is not full time participant

  • Lives in or near gang areas or has gang members in family

  • Has negative view of past, present and future: lacks self-esteem

  • Has high rate of absences, truancy, anti-social behavior in school

  • Early aggressive behavior

  • Chronic anger

  • (This level may represent 20% of the actual gang membership)


Level III - Associate (Wanna-be's)

  • Personally knows and admires gang members

  • Associates regularly with gang members, often in groups- seldom alone

  • Liberal or favorable attitude towards gangs and drugs

  • Mentally prepared to join a gang and is willing to do anything for gang approval and acceptance

  • Adopts gang clothing or tattoos

  • Detaches from family

  • Identifies gangs as a source of power, money and prestige

  • (This level may represent 40% of the actual gang membership)


Level IV - Gang Member

  • Associates exclusively with gang members

  • May go through a gang initiation

  • Generally has a gang nickname

  • May flash signs

  • May wear tattoos

  • Withdraws from home and school

  • Totally committed to gang lifestyle

  • May carry a weapon or has easy access to a weapon

  • Participates in gang crimes and other gang related activities

  • Prone to drug and/or alcohol use

  • (This level may represent 20% of the actual gang membership)


Level V - Hard Core Gang Member

  • Associates with no one but gang members and gang lifestyle

  • Instructs in the commission of street related crimes

  • Initiates and directs crime activities

  • Drug and/or alcohol user

  • Lives in or near the gang's area or turf

  • Personal goals totally for the cause of the gang

  • (This level may represent 10% of the actual gang membership)


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Robert Walker

This page was last updated on 03/14/2014

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