Behavior and Group Dynamics In
Gang members form powerful social connections that
multiply the violence.
August 31, 2010 | by Lou Savelli – policemag.com
Outlaw motorcycle gangs, organized crime, drug cartels and ethnic
gangs come together for a common purpose that may start as a social
thing but can evolve into something anti-social or criminal when the
members who make up the gang are antisocial or criminals
Sociologists believe that a gang will take on the morals, or lack of
morals, of the worst members and often exceed that lack of morals.
This behavior often manifests itself in most or all of the gang's
members, especially when they are together. This behavior can be
explained as 'group dynamics,' which is essentially the way individuals
behave when they are part of a group.
The behavior can become extreme. Such behavior is often displayed
around the world during rioting. The riots that occur during or after
sporting events or protests can lead individuals who may not be
inclined to act in a violent manner to act in such a manner and exceed
their own planned actions or expectations.
In the case of college students who usually display disciplined
behavior and conformity, attendance at a post celebratory rally for
their college's team can cause them to get 'caught up' in the more
severe behavior of their fellow rally-goers. This can result in the
usually behaved student becoming violent, undisciplined and
This group dynamic that leads to bad behavior is also evident in so
many of the "Girls Gone Wild" videos advertised on television
networks after midnight. Individual behavior becomes elevated to the
worse behavior being displayed by friends, as the crowds cheer them
on with the presence of the camera and the brief opportunity for
Many of these individuals, college students, girls going wild or gang
members may later be shocked by their own behavior.
Several gang members have told me that they were dabbling in minor
crimes such as graffiti and petty larceny before their membership in
the gang but committed more serious and more violent crimes far
beyond their nature and expectations as a member of the gang.
One long-time gang member admitted to me that he never thought he
could kill someone even if his life had depended on it but was involved
in several gang-related murders as a member of his New York City
gang. He freely told me he became physically ill during the first
murder and, as he stated, 'puked his brains out' immediately
afterward. Such stories were typical of the many gang members that I
have interviewed during my law enforcement career and subsequent
I'm not making excuses for those individuals who typically, and as I
have learned, join gangs, many members are merely followers. The
hard-core members, overall, number a few in most of the gangs
across the U.S. Nevertheless, the members of the gangs I'm going to
highlight would easily kill someone or have already killed some or