Visalia Gang-Related Crimes Down

October 3, 2008 10:01:43 PM PDT
Police in Visalia say fewer gang members are getting in trouble this year. That's according to the department's latest look at the number of gang-related crimes in 2008. Visalia Police say violent gang crime is down 18% compared to last year.

Lt Jason Salazar says "The crimes were specifically gang-related homicides, gang-related shootings or stabbings and gang-related drive by shootings."

By this time last year, Visalia Police reported 76 gang-related drive-by shootings. So far in 2008 they've tallied 53. Officers say the recent gang injunction which prohibits members of certain gangs from hanging out with each other within certain neighborhoods has helped.

Lt. Salazar says "The gang injunction gives us enforcement tools we didn't have before. They can't associate together, they can't fly their colors out in public."

Sgt. Steve Phillips says took Action News around several Visalia neighborhoods where gang violence has been a problem. Officers say the department is trying to take a more proactive approach to gang violence. They've increased the number of patrol units out on the streets and are putting more officers from the gang unit out on weekends and at night. They've also been focusing where they patrol.

Lt. Salazar says "When they get information that certain tensions are happing in the neighborhoods, we try to go out and focus a lot of our patrol efforts in those particular neighborhoods." Locals say they can see a difference. One resident says "Definitely the drive-by shootings have tapered down. It's not so much territorial as it used to be."

Police emphasize that even with the latest crime rate, their fight with gang violence is far from over. They're still out fighting gang-related drive-bys, burglaries or robberies every week.

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