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NYPD to double size of gang unit

  • Former Johnson & Johnson CEO James E. Burke is seen in an August 2000 photo provided by Johnson & Johnson.  Burke, who helped the company expand dramatically around the world and steered it through the Tylenol poisonings in the 1980s, died on Friday, Sept. 28. He was 87. (AP Photo/PR Newsfoto, Camera1 NYC)

    Former Johnson & Johnson CEO James E. Burke is seen in an August 2000 photo provided by Johnson & Johnson. Burke, who helped the company expand dramatically around the world and steered it through the Tylenol poisonings in the 1980s, died on Friday, Sept. 28. He was 87. (AP Photo/PR Newsfoto, Camera1 NYC) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Former Johnson & Johnson CEO James E. Burke is seen in an August 2000 photo provided by Johnson & Johnson.  Burke, who helped the company expand dramatically around the world and steered it through the Tylenol poisonings in the 1980s, died on Friday, Sept. 28. He was 87. (AP Photo/PR Newsfoto, Camera1 NYC)

    Former Johnson & Johnson CEO James E. Burke is seen in an August 2000 photo provided by Johnson & Johnson. Burke, who helped the company expand dramatically around the world and steered it through the Tylenol poisonings in the 1980s, died on Friday, Sept. 28. He was 87. (AP Photo/PR Newsfoto, Camera1 NYC) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Former Johnson & Johnson CEO James E. Burke is seen in an August 2000 photo provided by Johnson & Johnson.  Burke, who helped the company expand dramatically around the world and steered it through the Tylenol poisonings in the 1980s, died on Friday, Sept. 28. He was 87. (AP Photo/PR Newsfoto, Camera1 NYC)

    Former Johnson & Johnson CEO James E. Burke is seen in an August 2000 photo provided by Johnson & Johnson. Burke, who helped the company expand dramatically around the world and steered it through the Tylenol poisonings in the 1980s, died on Friday, Sept. 28. He was 87. (AP Photo/PR Newsfoto, Camera1 NYC) Purchase photo reprints »

  • FILE - In this Jan. 27, 2012 file photo, New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly speaks to reporters during a news conference in New York. Kelly says the NYPD will be doubling the size of its gang unit to combat a surge in social media-fueled violence. The reinforcements will focus largely on loosely affiliated groups of teens who trade dares and insults on Facebook. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

    FILE - In this Jan. 27, 2012 file photo, New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly speaks to reporters during a news conference in New York. Kelly says the NYPD will be doubling the size of its gang unit to combat a surge in social media-fueled violence. The reinforcements will focus largely on loosely affiliated groups of teens who trade dares and insults on Facebook. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File) Purchase photo reprints »

  • FILE - In this Jan. 27, 2012 file photo, New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly speaks to reporters during a news conference in New York. Kelly says the NYPD will be doubling the size of its gang unit to combat a surge in social media-fueled violence. The reinforcements will focus largely on loosely affiliated groups of teens who trade dares and insults on Facebook. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

    FILE - In this Jan. 27, 2012 file photo, New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly speaks to reporters during a news conference in New York. Kelly says the NYPD will be doubling the size of its gang unit to combat a surge in social media-fueled violence. The reinforcements will focus largely on loosely affiliated groups of teens who trade dares and insults on Facebook. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Former Johnson & Johnson CEO James E. Burke is seen in an August 2000 photo provided by Johnson & Johnson.  Burke, who helped the company expand dramatically around the world and steered it through the Tylenol poisonings in the 1980s, died on Friday, Sept. 28. He was 87. (AP Photo/PR Newsfoto, Camera1 NYC)
  • Former Johnson & Johnson CEO James E. Burke is seen in an August 2000 photo provided by Johnson & Johnson.  Burke, who helped the company expand dramatically around the world and steered it through the Tylenol poisonings in the 1980s, died on Friday, Sept. 28. He was 87. (AP Photo/PR Newsfoto, Camera1 NYC)
  • Former Johnson & Johnson CEO James E. Burke is seen in an August 2000 photo provided by Johnson & Johnson.  Burke, who helped the company expand dramatically around the world and steered it through the Tylenol poisonings in the 1980s, died on Friday, Sept. 28. He was 87. (AP Photo/PR Newsfoto, Camera1 NYC)
  • FILE - In this Jan. 27, 2012 file photo, New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly speaks to reporters during a news conference in New York. Kelly says the NYPD will be doubling the size of its gang unit to combat a surge in social media-fueled violence. The reinforcements will focus largely on loosely affiliated groups of teens who trade dares and insults on Facebook. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)
  • FILE - In this Jan. 27, 2012 file photo, New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly speaks to reporters during a news conference in New York. Kelly says the NYPD will be doubling the size of its gang unit to combat a surge in social media-fueled violence. The reinforcements will focus largely on loosely affiliated groups of teens who trade dares and insults on Facebook. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

Rather than target established street gangs involved in the drug trade, the reinforcements will focus mainly on “looser associations of younger men who identify themselves by the block they live on, or on which side of a housing development they reside,” Police Commissioner Raymond said in prepared remarks. “Their loyalty is to their friends living in a relatively small area and their rivalries are based not on narcotics trafficking or some other entrepreneurial interest, but simply on local turf,” Kelly added. “In other words, ‘You come in to my backyard and you get hurt. You diss my crew and you pay the price.’”

Under the new plan, the NYPD gang unit will work more closely with other divisions that monitor social media for signs of trouble.

Kelly cited a recent case in which investigators used Facebook to track a turf war between two Brooklyn crews named the Very Crispy Gangsters and the Rockstars. The case resulted in dozens of arrests for shootings and other mayhem.

“By capitalizing on the irresistible urge of these suspects to brag about their murderous exploits on Facebook, detectives used social media to draw a virtual map of their criminal activity over the last three years,” Kelly said.

Detectives have seen instances where a gang member has taunted rivals by circulating a photo of himself posing in front of their apartment building. Orders of protection also have been posted as a means of intimidation, Kelly said.

The NYPD has developed strict guidelines for investigators using social networks “to instill the proper balance between the investigative potential of social network sites and privacy expectations,” Kelly said.

The rules allow officers to adopt aliases for their online work as long as they first get permission from the department. They also will use special laptops that protect their anonymity.

Staffing for the expanded unit will come from gradual redeployment from other areas of the department, not from new hires.

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