Gang consortium helps schools identify groups

Gang consortium helps schools identify groups
By Marshall Allen
Staff Writer

Wednesday, October 23, 2002 – ALHAMBRA

Alhambra High School Asst. Principal Jim Schofield isn’t an Asian gangs expert. But through the West San Gabriel Valley Asian Gang Consortium, he can get information that will help him to discourage gang presence on his campus.

The Asian gang consortium is made up of dozens of law enforcement officials, school administrators, parole officers, deputy district attorneys and family counselors from the West San Gabriel Valley, who gather quarterly to share information about Asian gangs.

The group’s founder, Detective Ron Lee of the Monterey Park Police Department, received an award from Pacific Clinics on Wednesday for creating the group in 1999.

About 100 Asian gangs, each with an average membership of 20, have been identified by west San Gabriel Valley law enforcement officers in the past 15 years, Lee said. Most of the gangs are made up of male members, from as young as 11 to as old as 22, who are Chinese or Vietnamese, he said. The gangs are primarily located in Rosemead, Alhambra, San Gabriel and El Monte.

The gangs differ from African- American or Latino gangs in that they don’t have turf, but roam anywhere in Southern California where there’s an Asian community, Lee said. A decade ago, Asian gangs were mostly involved in crimes for profit like burglaries, robberies and auto theft, Lee said, but now they’re engaged in fighting rival gangs and driveby shootings. Most crimes committed by Asian gangs are against Asians, he added.

At Alhambra High School, where about 65 percent of the students are Asian, contacts made in the gang consortium have allowed administrators to identify possible gangsters, Schofield said. For instance, Nike Cortez shoes, certain numbered jerseys and even colored shoelaces tied in bunny ears and hanging off the front of shoes are styles favored by gang members, Schofield said. All clothing that could be interpreted as gangrelated is now outlawed by the school’s dress code.

Changes like those to the dress code, and others, have led to fewer students associating and affiliating with gangs, Schofield said.

“There’s been a greatly decreased involvement in Asian gangs, and definitely less of a recruiting factor on our campus,’ Schofield said.

The consortium meetings also have connected law officers and school administrators to Pacific Clinics Asian Pacific Family Center, where children associated with gangs can get counseling, Schofield said.

About a third of the 200 students involved in counseling at the Asian Pacific Family Center have some gang association, estimated Glenn Masuda, a clinical director at the center.

“One reason why (Lee) and people of his ilk are helpful is that they become involved before it becomes a law enforcement issue,’ Masuda said.

Sometimes Lee will come with the student to the clinic, Masuda said. To prevent crime, Masuda also will share information he learns from students with law enforcement and school officials, he said.

“If several kids have said there’s going to be an incident at a certain junior high school, I’m not going to breach confidentiality, but I will call law enforcement to say they should be on the alert,’ Masuda said.

Marshall Allen can be reached at (626) 578-6300, or by e-mail at

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