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Lynn Police gang unit gets high-tech assistance
By Thor Jourgensen
Monday, August 2, 2004

LYNN -- The newest weapon in the Lynn Police Department gang unit's arsenal is not a weapon or fancy car, it is a computer.

Using a computer provided by Essex Sheriff Frank Cousins' office, anti-gang officers can track down background and gang affiliation information on gang members they arrest and individuals they suspect to be involved in gangs.

"Having access to the sheriff's office photos and other resources is invaluable," Deputy Police Chief Kevin Coppinger said.

Sheriff's employees installed the computer in the gang unit's office in the clast week. Inmates incarcerated in the county jail in Middleton include gang members from across Eastern Massachusetts and other areas, including ones who have committed crimes in Lynn.

"This is a way to tie our information in with Lynn and other departments. Gang and drug units need this information," Cousins said.

Coppinger said the computer will help gang unit commander Lt. Glen Deveau and his officers learn about crimes gang members may have committed outside Lynn, and about other gang members they may be affiliated with.

"Criminals don't respect geographic boundaries," Coppinger said.

Lynn's gang unit has been praised by District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett as one of the best in Massachusetts. Deveau and his men traveled earlier this summer to Chicago, where they worked with intelligence officers in the Chicago Police Department.

The Lynn gang unit tracks gang activity and gang members across the city, including ones who fired shots in Kiley Playground, and other involved in a series of shootings and other violent acts last year centered on Beaudry Terrace and Western Avenue.

The unit is also working with counterparts in Revere, Boston, Chelsea and other communities to track activities by MS-13, a violent gang with roots in El Salvador.

Using the Lynn Police Department's anti gang unit as a model, Blodgett has helped Salem police begin dealing with gangs in their city, and begun to educate teachers and parents about gang recruiting tactics.
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