Ed Driscoll

GANGS OF NEW JERSEY: The

GANGS OF NEW JERSEY: The Asbury Park Press (yes, the town named itself after Bruce Springsteen’s first album), reports that it’s a serious phenomenon:

It pits “supergangs,” such as the Bloods and Crips and the Chicago-based Latin Kings, against a growing army of Garden State gang investigators, task-force members and intelligence gatherers.

Law-enforcement officials stress the gravity of the struggle:

The gangs, whose members number more than 10,000, according to the State Police, have established a beachhead in New Jersey. These gangs, some of them supergangs that germinated in the New Jersey prison system a decade ago, have spread not just to the cities, but to suburban towns and even schools.

“The gang problem in New Jersey is rampant and growing,” former Union County Prosecutor Thomas V. Manahan said earlier this year before leaving for a post with the state police. “You’re not saved by your address. Just because you live in a sleepy little community doesn’t mean it isn’t percolating below the surface.”

Living in denial

Gang investigators say they are working to prevent gangs from blending further into the fabric of New Jersey’s municipalities as they have in Los Angeles and Chicago, where gangs boast tens of thousands of members. But the challenge appears daunting.

The Internet has allowed the tentacles of the supergangs to extend deeper into suburban neighborhoods, according to Keith Bevacqui, a New Jersey State Police detective sergeant and gang investigator.

But there is something else that has fueled their emergence.

“There’s a lot of denial of gang activity,” said Sgt. William Paglione, deputy commander of the Middlesex County Violent Gang Task Force.

“Nobody wants to admit we have a problem, and the truth is every town in America has a problem,” said Assistant Middlesex County Prosecutor Cindy Glaser. “It’s everywhere. It’s just that epidemic of a problem.”

Of course, as one of Glenn Reynolds’ readers comments about growing crime rates in general, the growing trend to make law enforcement PC probably isn’t helping matters. Although, considering the tone of New Jersey’s “poet laureate“, these guys should feel right at home.