Early Introduction to Valley Gang Life

January 9, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
Shocking pictures of young children making gang signs and dressed in gang colors.Parents teaching their kids how to dress, and act like a gang member, police say it's how a lot of children get introduced into the violent and dangerous lifestyle.

Police say this behavior is ingrained in children at a very young age in some cases when kids are still in diapers.

Investigators say to the untrained eye the kids may look cute all dressed up in a certain color-- but these colors represent a lifestyle that is anything but innocent.

Parents love to dress their kids up and take pictures of them. But these aren't your ordinary family portraits. Fresno police say these toddlers are the children of gang members who dress their babies in their gang colors.

Sgt. Brenda Trobaugh, Fresno Police Dept.: "Parents think that it's cute to dress their kids and pose them in that type of fashion because that's the way that they dress and pose themselves."

Sgt. Brenda Trobaugh has worked with gangs for 14 years and tells me the cycle of initiating gang members often starts in the home with their own children.

"I think the most shocking ones I've seen is where the kids are in diapers and the kids are barely able to sit up on their own and posed with dope and guns and dressed in gang attire. I mean, that always grabs your heart and how can it not."

These pictures from Fresno P.D.'s gang task force illustrate how kids in several age groups grow into becoming gangsters.

"This would be your next step after the toddler step."

"When they first start learning how to do the gang signs and imitating what they see every single day."

Chief Jerry Dyer: "Even though these two kids do not even know each other at this age if they continue to grow up in that environment these two individuals will be feuding with each other and the likelihood of injuring or killing each other in the future is high."

Chief Jerry Dyer's "Operation Bulldog" has led to the arrest of nearly 6-thousand gang members in the last 14 months.

He's counting on the aggressive approach to someday eliminate all gang members from Fresno and future pictures like this.

Hundreds of the gang members that have been arrested are trying to break the vicious cycle of generation after generation of family members being in a gang and are finding hope with the mayor's gang prevention initiative. It's helped people of all ages get out of a gang and find a job.


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