The Battle against Gangs

February 1, 2008 7:39:23 PM PST
The heads of three Valley Law Enforcement Agencies came together Friday with one message for state lawmakers: don't take away their most valuable weapon in the war on gangs. Extended gang efforts are just now beginning to make a difference and though some difficult calls will be made, Fresno's top cops hope it will not interfere with progress they are making on getting rid of gangs.

Putting a choke hold on gang activity cannot stop now, that's the message leading law enforcement sent to Assembly Member Juan Arambula.

Bill Wittman, Tulare County Sheriff: "I'm way too old to be politically correct they've got to be removed. They made a conscious decision to be violent, to kill to rob to rape. They have no redeeming value in my eyes."

Fresno Police and the Fresno County Sheriff's Department agree, crime involving gang members has become simply too common and too violent to ignore. Gang members are multiplying by the day and Sheriff Margaret Mims is witnessing it firsthand.

Margaret Mims, Fresno County Sheriff: "We are now arresting second and third generation gang members. We have had both father and son gang members in jail at the same time."

Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer says sporadic enforcement only works while the pressure is on, he knows that from past experience.

Jerry Dyer, Fresno Police Chief: "When gang violence started to rise and there was a series of shootings we would collectively bring our resources together, conduct a short term suppression operation 20 days 30 days, maybe 60 days. Put as many people in jail as possible, take as many guns off the street and hold a news conference, and say we were successful. The truth is the truth is that is a short term success."

Arambula's opinion of what to cut and what to keep will be especially important, since he is the chair of the Budget Sub Committee.

Assm. Juan Arambula "After today's hearing, I'm even more of the mind that we need to redouble our efforts in the area of gang prevention and intervention efforts. If anything we should be looking at providing additional resources."

To address concerns members of the public might have about gangs in the community. Assembly Member Arambula is hosting a telephone town hall meeting right now.

He's hoping to take information he collects Friday back to Sacramento.


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