Gang & Immigration Enforcement
The Gang Intelligence Team Enforcement Mission (GITEM) concept was conceived in late 1992 by law enforcement agencies in the metropolitan Phoenix area to maximize law enforcement's effects on gangs. The mutually supportive program was designed to cripple the criminal activity of gangs as well as to reduce the impact on law enforcement agencies that such concentrated enforcement produces. This effort was a response to the need for all law enforcement to take a strong and coordinated stance against the epidemic of gang and street violence.
During the first year of operation, GITEM implemented two separate regions or deployment centers (in Phoenix and Tucson) from which officers could be deployed to support law enforcement agencies statewide. GITEM consisted of employees from 22 different agencies.
In 1996, GITEM established two undercover squads, the first in the nation, specifically to infiltrate and dismantle gangs as criminal enterprises. The squads were based out of Phoenix and Tucson but conducted operations in every area of the state.
In 2003, GITEM fell victim to changing priorities and budget shortfalls and went through a significant downsizing process to meet budgetary restraints.
In 2006, Arizona lawmakers took an aggressive stance on stopping gang and illegal immigration-related crimes and revitalized the old GITEM and created the new GIITEM, the Gang and Immigration Intelligence Team Enforcement Mission. In addition, those same lawmakers provided special funding to the task force and added the responsibilities of deterring border-related crimes and combating the rising incidents of human smuggling and illegal immigration.
GIITEM’s unique approach brings together law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies from municipal, county, state, federal and tribal jurisdictions in a coordinated, intelligence-driven approach to deal with gangs and violent human smuggling organizations on a large scale. Traditionally, Arizona agencies addressed the gang and illegal immigration problem individually rather than collectively. This separate approach resulted in displacement rather than focused and directed gang and illegal immigration enforcement efforts and identification. The primary benefit of the GIITEM task force is the combined resolution of the involved agencies and citizens, who ultimately are the recipients of the project’s services, to cripple gangs and human smuggling organizations in the state rather than displacing these problems into adjoining jurisdictions.
GIITEM is one of only a few true multi-agency statewide gang and illegal immigration task force programs in the country. GIITEM’s anti-gang and illegal immigration efforts are directed into four areas: enforcement, investigation, intelligence gathering and training. GIITEM’s success can be contributed to its ability to confront gang and illegal immigration problems statewide without regard to the normal jurisdictional issues that affect municipal and county law enforcement agencies.