After two murders and $200,000 in emergency funding from the Redwood City Council, the police department is claiming victory in the city’s ongoing battle against gangs.
There is still crime, but the violent retaliation between the Norteño and Sureño gangs has diminished and police are shifting their focus from reacting to gang violence to preventing it. In four months, a beefed-up police force made 86 arrests and identified 68 gang members. Gang hot spots cooled, but police are carefully watching them to make sure members are not taking up in new areas of town.
To do that, police need residents to call in suspicious people or activity in their neighborhood, said Redwood City police Sgt. Sean Hart.
"Gangs are getting pushed around,” said Hart. "Don’t feel like anything is too small to report.”
A key indication of growing gang violence is graffiti. A gang will mark its territory with graffiti, but trouble starts when another gang "disrespects” the other by crossing out the graffiti. The tension escalates and usually results in violence.
The city’s Street Crime Suppression Team, which consists of city officers and San Mateo County deputies, effectively pushed some gangs out of town and forced others to run, Hart said.
When the gang starts running, they end up in unexpected parts of town. That’s when residents need to call police to report suspicious activity, Hart said.
During the city’s crackdown, police contacted 287 people and arrested 86. They also collected 41 weapons and identified 68 gang members. Police met with apartment owners and succeeded in getting three gang members evicted. Some apartment owners also agreed to put additional lighting at their building.
Officers have also been making presentations at schools and counseling troubled youth, Hart said. To report suspicious gang activity call the Redwood City police at 780-7100. To report graffiti, call the graffiti hotline at 780-7304.
The San Mateo County Chiefs and Sheriff Association’s countywide gang task force also reported a successful crackdown on gangs. The task force contacted 647 people and made 194 arrests during its eight-week crackdown that ended Nov. 18. Law enforcement agents from at least 20 agencies in the county, including the Department of Justice, participated in the crackdown.
The crackdown was set to continue, but with a temporarily smaller task force, said San Mateo County Undersheriff Greg Munks.
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