|“Net – Banging”|
|By Vinko Kucinic, Security Threat Group Investigation, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction|
Using the Internet as a tool to manage Security Threat Groups
Security threat groups and gangs continue to impact communities and corrections agencies across the country. A 2009 National Gang Threat Assessment conducted by the NGIC- National Gang Intelligence Center and NDIC- National Drug Intelligence revealed that approximately 1 million gang members belonging to more than 20,000 gangs were criminally active within all 50 states. The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) manages an inmate population of over 51,000 inmates with approximately 8000 identified security threat group members.
As inmate populations, caseloads and security threat groups increase and budgets are reduced, the management of these security threat groups and their members becomes increasingly more challenging. Correctional agencies manage security threat groups and their members in many ways. Traditional methods of gaining intelligence information through informants and monitoring communication as well as many others will continue to be utilized. One method or resource that should not be overlooked is the Internet.
Ohio security threat groups and their members are becoming more sophisticated in their use of computers and the Internet. A key finding from the NGIC and NDIC 2009 National Gang Threat Assessment revealed that many gangs actively use the Internet to recruit new members and communicate with members in other areas of the United States and in foreign countries. The Internet allows security threat groups and their members to spread their message, lifestyle and help facilitate their criminal activity. We have found gang histories, graffiti, diaries, drawings, maps, videos and photos of themselves online. The posting of this information has been very useful to law enforcement and corrections agencies in Ohio and across the country when trying to identify, monitor or track criminal gang activity. Additional information has been found in online chat rooms, message boards, guest books, news groups, and social networking websites. A simple search on the Internet for a local gang or security threat group can produce valuable intelligence.
Additionally, the proliferation of cell phones, Smartphones and other devices that are smuggled into correctional facilities are making it more difficult to manage security threat groups and their members. In the ODRC, we are finding security threat group inmates with email addresses and/or websites dedicated to them or their cause. With a smuggled cellphone that has internet capabilities, a security threat group member is able to surf the net from the confines of their cell and “net bang”.
The Internet and advancements in technology will continue to significantly impact correctional agencies and greatly enhance the ability of authorities to collect and share information.
For additional information, training, or assistance in STG or criminal gang matters, please contact the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction STG Enforcement Unit at (614) 752-1711.
Corrections.com author, Vinko Kucinic is a Security Threat Group Investigation Coordinator with the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction where he manages the STG Enforcement Unit. He is responsible for STG tracking, monitoring, investigating and intelligence collection efforts. He provides training on security threat groups nationally and throughout Ohio including the Ohio Corrections Training Academy and the Ohio State Highway Patrol Academy.
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