State’s Attorney Glasgow’s updated gang prevention book provides critical resources for parents, educators

October 3

JOLIET —Will County States Attorney James Glasgow announces the release of his completely revised gang awareness and prevention book to assist educators and parents who want to protect children from street gang influences.

States Attorney Glasgow developed and printed the 40-page, full-color book, Gangs: Awareness, Prevention, Intervention, in cooperation with the Joliet Township High School Districts YESS! Initiative. Funding for the initial printing of the book was provided through a federal Safe Schools, Healthy Students grant awarded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

The book initially is being distributed to parents and educators from the Joliet Township High School District under the federal grant. Glasgow, however, will talk with other Will County school officials about funding the printing and distribution of the gang prevention book for their school districts.

Over the next year, the states attorneys gang experts will distribute more than 6,000 books when they make presentations to JTHS parents, teachers and administrators at community meetings, open houses and faculty training sessions. 

This book will serve as a critical educational tool to instruct parents and teachers about street gang activity in their own community, Glasgow said. The book provides details about how gangs operate in Will County, detailing their antithetical philosophy built on the deliberate and continuous commission of crimes against society. It also includes detailed descriptions and photographs of the clothes they wear, the hand signals they flash and the graffiti symbols they use to identify their turf.

Glasgow continued: More importantly, the book discusses the means by which street gangs try to lure our children into lives of crime.  It outlines strategies and services aimed at identifying at-risk youths and steering them away from gang influences.

Gang prevention books have been an important component of Glasgows administration for roughly 15 years. The states attorney published several black-and-white editions of the book in the 1990s, shortly after his office and Will County police departments raised the stakes in the local war against gang crime.  The Chicago Tribune dubbed one of these prevention books the primary primer on gangs.

Glasgow established the states attorneys first Gang Prosecution Unit in 1993 during his first year in office when gang shootings in Joliet had skyrocketed to 296 as of December 7, 1993.  On that date, the states attorney worked with local police and federal law enforcement officials to conduct a sweep that took 47 high-level gang members off Will Countys streets. The initiative eliminated all local gang shootings for the next three months and received national attention when it was featured on World News Tonight hosted by Peter Jennings.

Glasgows new gang prevention book was developed and updated with input from gang experts in local law enforcement, among them: Detective Sgt. Dave Margliano, who recently retired from the Channahon Police Department and now serves as an investigator and court qualified gang expert with the states attorneys office; Detective Sgt. Tom Quillman of the Joliet Police Department; Fred Hafner, who retired from the Joliet Police Department; members of the Will County States Attorneys Gang Prosecution Unit; and the states attorneys Crime Prevention Division.

Law enforcement officials who know first-hand how gangs operate in Will County participated in the creation of States Attorney Glasgows updated gang prevention book, Margliano said. The information that is contained in his book was culled from our experiences battling gang crime and working with young people to keep them out of gangs. 

Glasgows gang prevention book cites research from the Chicago Crime Commissions Gang Book as well the Bureau of Justice Assistances 2005 National Gang Threat Assessment. Like those reports, Glasgows book provides detailed photographs of tattoos, graffiti and hand signals that identify the main gangs operating in Will County the Gangster Disciples, Latin Kings, Two-Six Nation and Vice Lords as well as other gangs that have attempted to claim local turf like the Two-Two Boys, Maniac Latin Disciples and La Raza. 

Unlike those reports, Glasgow targeted parents and educators with his book. His goal is to put information in their hands to fight gang crime through awareness, prevention and intervention at the grassroots level and to complement law enforcements aggressive police and prosecution efforts.

Law enforcement cannot succeed in a vacuum, the states attorney writes in the books forward. This battle requires that we have a strong sense of family, neighborhood and community. Everyone must join the fight to stop this problem. Parents, teachers, business leaders and government officials must learn the warning signs so they can help stop gang infiltration in its tracks.

Kelli Bettenhausen, executive director of JTHS YESS! (Youth Experience Success in Schools) initiative, said the states attorneys gang book will serve as important resources for parents and faculty.

The gang prevention book created by States Attorney Glasgow brings to life the reality of street gangs, Bettenhausen said. Joliet Township High School District 204 will present this book to teachers, administrators, parents and community members to raise awareness of gang activity. The information contained in the book can help them reach out to children and students who are susceptible to gang influences.

Gangs: Awareness, Prevention, Intervention takes Glasgows 1990s books to the next level. The federal grant funding enabled the states attorneys office to print an eye-catching, full-color book that will appeal to parents and teachers. All of the information is presented in short, easy-to-read chapters that are illustrated through original art as well as high-quality photographs provided by local police departments.

The cover of the new edition was a collaborative effort by many people, all with an eye toward a clear visual representation of the true purpose of book. The gavel smashing the wall and shattering the gang graffiti conveys the positive message that we in civilized society will prevail over the lawlessness of these malevolent criminals, Glasgow said.

Interspersed throughout the book are short, real-life stories about gang cases that have been investigated and prosecuted in Will County. The true stories serve as a reminder that gang crime continues to affect the citizens of Will County. At the same time they clearly demonstrate how effectively our criminal justice system deals with these lawless acts.

School districts and community organizations can obtain more information about Gangs: Awareness, Prevention, Intervention and obtain a copy by calling Charles B. Pelkie at the states attorneys office at (815) 727-8789.