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Tri-Agency Resource Gang Enforcement Team

Ages 15-24

Rating: Level 2


The Tri-Agency Resource Gang Enforcement Team (TARGET) program in Orange County, Calif., is a gang crime intervention program intended to provide a strong criminal justice response to offenses committed by gang members. The goal of the TARGET program is to reduce gang crime by selectively incarcerating the most violent and repeat (recidivist) gang offenders (based on their criminal records). Individuals are identified as repeat gang offenders on the basis of their criminal record, with the assistance of reliable police intelligence. Once these offenders are identified, they are monitored closely for new offenses. When a gang member is arrested, the offender is prosecuted by the district attorney assigned to the TARGET unit to obtain the lengthiest period of incarceration possible to deter future criminal offending. All targeted gang members who are on probation are supervised by the probation offer assigned to the unit, and their activities are closely monitored. The unit also is charged with gang suppression, and members are regularly called to testify in other jurisdictions as gang experts.

TARGET uses a multijurisdictional model that integrates law enforcement, probation, and prosecution efforts. It represents a multi-agency approach to targeting current gang members with suppression measures while also targeting entire gangs with police suppression. Each team in the TARGET program consists of gang investigators, a probation officer, a deputy district attorney, and a district attorney investigator. This program uses a three-pronged strategy: 1) selective incarceration of the most violent and repeat older gang offenders in the most violent gangs, 2) enforcement of probation controls (graduated sanctions and intensive supervision) on younger, less violent gang offenders, and 3) arrests of gang leaders in “hot spots” of gang activity.

These team members are housed together at a local law enforcement facility to concentrate a highly coordinated team effort toward the gang problem in that jurisdiction. This model promotes maximum communication and coordination between agencies. By physically locating three or more agencies in the same room, both the frequency and quality of interagency communication and cooperation are dramatically enhanced. The personnel assigned to the team are able to share thoughts, strategies, and case information on gang-related crime without delay.


This evaluation used an unconventional logic model approach to test the effectiveness of the TARGET program. The logic model approach requires specification regarding how a program is intended to work as well as measurement of the treatment, the outcome, and key mediating variables. The basic version of the logic model approach is to identify one major intervening variable between the independent and dependent variables. The intervening variable—incarceration of repeat gang offenders—is the proximal variable that is expected to change directly as a result of program activities and is a precondition of successful outcome. In addition, two comparison communities were selected that had similar types and amounts of gang crime, to rule out a general decrease in gang crime in the region. Data collection included 84 months of data, 12 months before program implementation and 72 months after implementation. During the evaluation period, the program processed 237 cases involving repeat gang offenders identified by police detectives on the basis of criminal records and police intelligence. All cases had a favorable prosecution outcome, and nearly all defendants were kept in continuous custody from arrest through sentencing.


The evaluation results reveal that following program implementation the gang crime trend is relatively consistent with the proposed theory of the program. First, the placement of repeat offenders in custody appears to have had an effect on reducing gang crime. Gang crime decreased by 11 percent during 1992, the 1st year of the program. The cumulative reduction in gang crime was 64 percent through 1993, 59 percent through 1994, and 47 percent through 1997.

In addition, the evaluation ruled out several plausible alternative explanations (i.e., the reduction in gang crime was attributable to a general decrease in crime in the area or the reduction in gang crime was attributable to a general decrease in gang crime in the region). First, the data reveals a greater decrease in gang crime than in nongang crime during the 1st year of implementation. While this initial program effect disappears in subsequent years, the initial decline in gang crime cannot be attributed to an overall reduction of crime in the community. Second, the program community experienced a greater decline in total violent crime than that found in comparison communities with a comparable gang crime problem. This decline in the program community cannot be attributed to a general reduction in violent crime.

Risk Factors


  • Availability of alcohol and other drugs


  • Gang involvement/Gang membership

Protective Factors


  • Safe environment / Low neighborhood crime


Kent, Douglas R., Stewart I. Donaldson, Phelan A. Wyrick, and Peggy J. Smith. 2000. “Evaluating Criminal Justice Programs Designed to Reduce Crime by Targeting Repeat Gang Offenders.” Evaluation and Program Planning 23:115–24.


Chief Andrew E. Hall
Westminster Police Department
8200 Westminster Blvd.
Westminster, CA 92683
Phone: (714) 898-3315
Web site: