Parents' Guide to

Detroit Gang Squad

By Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Voyeuristic docu about elite gang-busting police force.

Detroit Gang Squad Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.

Community Reviews

age 16+

Based on 4 parent reviews

age 11+

I was aware of the Gang Squad when I was in middle school. Good idea.

I think they done a great job of showing me that gangs weren't really a good thing to get into.

This title has:

Great role models
age 18+

National Geographic Broadcast of Detroit Gang Squad 10-14-11

In my opinion this is a horribly racist program. It reveals that young black men who have no means to make a legal living are engaged in the sale of cannabis. Not Coke. Not Heroin. Not Speed, but Cannabis. It further shows a cadre of full grown athletic male black police officers (essentially a sanctioned gang of thugs) armed to the teeth with shotguns, assault rifles and pistols. These officers are being used to imprison young men and women of their own race, while white people in far away (read safe) offices dispatch warrants and examine evidence to be used in the prosecution of the young black males. In this episode none of the ballistic evidence gathered against these people proved to be viable or demonstrate that there was any connection between the young men who’s home was raided and any violent crime. Yet arrests were made! The officers portrayed themselves as heros on the job to clean up the streets of America. I see them as thugs working for the white man who are now complicit in imprisoning their own young brothers and sisters in what is nothing less than a continuation of punishing people of color for being poor. They would be far better off establishing themselves as mentors which would serve to heal the community, rather and tough talking gun slinging super cops destroying lives in their community, though I doubt any of the officers live anywhere near where this footage was shown. Also the commercials which paid for this program had an especially southern white male flavor to them. This is yet another factor which demonstrates the purposefully racial structure of this programming. The demonizing of young black males by the National Geographic Channel, is not only shameful but propagandistic in its nature. The supposition that the young man arrested for the crime of murder “Looked” like the person who committed the crime is a flimsy excuse to launch an all weapons out bust on kids selling pot. If that were the case, procuring a warrant would be as simple as saying “yep he/she looks just like the kid that did the crime. No problem warrant issued! Even in this program, the officer flatly stated that he saw the owner of the house selling pot. I never saw any person selling pot, although I did see several young men enter the house. I am a white male who was raised in a black neighborhood. I know what these poor disenfranchised human beings are up against. They are daily pitted against poverty, joblessness, hunger, excessively harsh laws regarding cannabis possession and the rampant availability of fire arms. One of the officers interviewed stated that there was no way to stop the flow of weapons into Detroit. Well I highly disagree with that statement. If the white people who own the factories were made to shut down their blood for money factories, there would be no guns on the street of any town in America. America would be far better of if the officers were busting down the doors of these weapons manufactures and imprisoning the workers and owners as they are the true criminals who are producing the guns in the first place. In other words stop it at the source. If one tenth as much energy and money was put into stopping the production of guns as is put into the war on cannabis there would be no guns on the street. America is building countless prisons to house people of color. Color is not a crime!!! Orbmanelson

This title has:

Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: (4 ):
Kids say: Not yet rated

The National Geographic documentary, which is narrated by Brett Beyer, offers an inside look into what goes into investigating and ultimately arresting and incarcerating violent gang criminals. It showcases the various intelligence collection techniques, including interviews with incarcerated gang members, and frequent searches of local residents for guns, drugs, and other illicit items. Although its focus is primarily on Squad activities, it also offers some interesting details about the differences in gang cultures across the country, as well as some reasons for the rise of violent gang-related crimes.

Unfortunately, what it also inadvertently succeeds in doing is creating a sense that the entire city of Detroit is under siege because it fails to indicate that much of the city's gang activity takes place in specific areas. The fact that all the gang members questioned throughout the program are African American also sends a troubling message about the relationship between race and violence. Also, the show operates exclusively from the Squad's perspective, ignoring residents real-life complaints against the police unit, which has been accused of brutality by members of the community. Despite this, the overall documentary offers a voyeuristic and informative glimpse into how Michigan law enforcement officers combat gang violence and help to create a safer city.

TV Details

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