A gang can be perceived to be a group of people who share a common identity by use of frameworks such as organization and the formation of a grouping. The current usage of gangs is mostly associated with criminal organizations (Knox, 2000). The concept of gangs is usually complicated and dynamic due to the persistent modifications of the gang culture; this makes it difficult to devise approaches that can be used to classify gangs basing on the core factors such as demographics, colors and symbols that the various gangs are using (National Drug Intelligence Center, 2009). In addition, there is a variation in terms of the gang membership, size, the organizational structure, ethnicity, and variations in the criminal activities that gangs involve themselves in. This paper discusses the various classification approaches for gangs and compares at least three approaches used in gang classification. The paper also identifies the types of gangs that are evident using the classification schema.
There is a significant variation of the various gangs regarding gang membership, organizational structure, age and ethnic composition. There are various schemas that can be used in the classification of gangs. The first approach basically entails the use of behavior, which mainly identify five core categories of gang types, which are social, violent, drug dealing, delinquent and entrepreneurial. In areas where gang activities are most profound, gang classification mostly bases on the extent of crime and the motivating factors that compel individuals to engage in gang activities (National Drug Intelligence Center, 2009). In most cases, gang motivation serves to improve the status of the entire gang, and is a major characteristic of gangs that must be taken to consideration when identifying the various types of gangs. Typologies and contexts, for instance goals, behaviors and objectives are vital in the process of gang classification irrespective of the locations and interpretation at individual level. It is important to note that the most determining factor under this gang classification is the aspect of a common goal, which means that people come collectively to be involved in a given gang activity, which is significantly determined by their behaviors (Stone, 2000).
The second gang classification schema bases on evolutionary and developmental models, whereby the classification of gangs is based on the evolution and the development of gangs in relation to its characteristics. This classification approach also focuses on the aspect of cohesiveness, the extent and patterns of involvement in criminal activities, ethnic compositions, location, gender and culture in relation to patterns of immigration. The gang types under this classification could include traditional gangs, which have a well outline organizational culture and rules; national gangs and hybrid gangs (National Drug Intelligence Center, 2009).
The third gang classification schema bases on the identification of the primary objectives of the gang and the organizational leadership structure. According to this classification approach, they are three distinct gang types mainly corporate, territorial and scavenger. Corporate gangs mainly focus on the aspect of money-making and their activities are exclusively related to making profit (National Drug Intelligence Center, 2009). Corporate gangs display a vertical hierarchy and are mostly involved in group violence compared to individual violence. Territorial gangs on the other hand focus more on turf possession, and gang members are more ready to deploy violence in order to protect whatever is in their territory (Stone, 2000). This gang type is less organized and has more cases of individual violence. Scavenger gangs on the other hand are characterized by poor organizational structure, and gang membership is mainly due to the need to be associated with brotherhood and belong to a particular group. Basically, scavenger gangs have no objectives and goals, and mostly involved in senseless and erratic criminal behavior (National Drug Intelligence Center, 2009).
Local gang classification
The local gang classification bases on the conventional classification approach identified by law enforcement officials that mainly focus on the extent to which to the gang organizations are a threat to public safety (National Drug Intelligence Center, 2009). This classification identifies the street gangs and the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs. Street gangs impose the high level of threat to public safety at the community, state and national level, this is because they are usually the largest forms of gang organizations and cover wide geographical scopes. Their motives mainly comprises of involvement in criminal activities such as street violence and trafficking of drugs. The street gangs are mainly territorial, implying that any instance of conflicts between various street gangs over turf possession is likely to impose a significant threat to public safety (Howell, 2007). Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs are also a significant threat to public safety because of their various involvements in criminal activities, violence and their capability of countering the efforts deployed by law enforcement agencies. OMGs have a structural leadership that is well organized and their members involve themselves in activities such as weapons trafficking, crimes that are violent and drug trafficking (National Drug Intelligence Center, 2009).
The most significant challenge during the undertaking of the research is that most gangs posses different characteristics that almost suit all the criteria, making it difficult to adopt a single criteria that can be used in the classification of gangs.

Howell, J. (2007). Frequently asked questions about gangs. Retrieved August 21, 2011, from National Gang Center; OJJDP & BJA:
Knox, G. (2000). An introduction to gangs. Chicago: New Chicago School Press.
National Drug Intelligence Center. (2009). National Gang Threat Assessment 2009. Retrieved August 21, 2011, from
Stone, S. (2000). Contemporary gang issues: an inside view. Chicago: New Chicago School Press.

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