Albany Police Department Investigator Roosevelt Kearney addresses the Gang Task Force and Violence Prevention Meeting at noon Thursday.
ALBANY — In an update on the battle against gangs in Albany, officials said the focus has shifted to long-term investigations rather than quick arrests.
“We plan on working on the long-term investigations to make an impact,” Gang Unit Investigator Roosevelt Kearney said at the noon Thursday Gang Task Force meeting. “We will be going after gangs as corrupt organizations.”
The most recent — and perhaps first — corrupt organization investigation to pay off was the August roundup of accused Crips gang leaders. At that time, about 59 gang leaders were served with warrants for charges of violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.
Kearney said it takes an extended investigation to assemble all the proof needed so that the District Attorney’s Office can go to a grand jury and secure indictments.
In using the RICO statutes, law enforcement went after the “Triple OGs” or long-time Old Gangsters and leaders of the Crips gang, Kearney said. Also targeted were “Young OGs,” who serve as recruiters for the gang, he added.
“We identified parents and their children to give them a second chance,” Kearney said. “We went after the top of the gang.”
Many of the youngest members of the gang do not know what they are getting into when they hang out with gang members, Kearney said. Educating them about gang life is another tool used to deny gang recruits.
Kearney gave an example of a rule broken by a young gang member and the “violation,” or retaliation, he suffered. The gang member was short $7 in what he was supposed to hand over to the gang leaders as part of a theft. Three gang members pushed the boy’s head to the curb and stomped on it until his eye socket was broken.
“They don’t know they can get violated,” Kearney said. “Some violations will get death. We’re really here to help parents and children. Refuse our help and we’ll put you in jail.”
With the holiday season starting, it is also robbery-homicide season, said police Capt. Wendy Luster, Gang Unit commander.
“Prevention means we are putting patrols out there in (gang) hotspots,” Luster said. “We are going to remain proactive in stopping crime.”