The Tri-Agency Resource Gang Enforcement Team (TARGET) program in Orange County, California, represents a multiagency 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: (a) selective incarceration of the most violent and repeat older gang offenders in the most violent gangs, (b) enforcement of probation controls (graduated sanctions and intensive supervision) on younger, less violent gang offenders, and (c) arrests of gang leaders in “hot spots” of gang activity. A major aim of the TARGET program is to reduce gang crime by selectively incarcerating the most violent and repeat gang offenders (based on their criminal records) in the most violent gangs in Orange County. Once these offenders are identified, they are monitored closely for new offenses and undergo intensive supervision when on probation for violation of probation terms and conditions. The TARGET program has been shown to be successful in producing a sharp increase in the incarceration of gang members and a cumulative 47 percent decrease in gang crime over a seven-year period and in reducing the overall level of gang crime in one targeted hot spot to near zero.
Gang involvement in adolescence
High alcohol/drug use
High drug dealing
Illegal gun ownership/carrying
Availability and use of drugs in the neighborhood
Availability of firearms
Exposure to violence and racial prejudice
Feeling unsafe in the neighborhood
Association with gang-involved peers/relatives
National Gang Center: Promising program
Chief Ralph Ornelas
Westminster Police Department
8200 Westminster Boulevard
Westminster, CA 92683
Phone: (714) 898-3315
Capizzi, M.; Cook, J. I.; and Schumacher, M. (1995, March-April). “The TARGET model: A New Approach to the Prosecution of Gang Cases.” Prosecutor, pp. 18–21.
Kent, D. R.; Donaldson, S. I.; Wyrick, P. A.; and Smith, P. J. (2000). “Evaluating Criminal Justice Programs Designed to Reduce Crime by Targeting Repeat Gang Offenders.” Evaluation and Program Planning, 23:115–124.
Wiebe, D. J. (1998, November). Targeting and Gang Crime: Assessing the Impacts of a Multi-Agency Suppression Strategy in Orange County, California. University of California, Irvine, CA: Focused Research Group on Gangs.