TULARE, Calif. (KFSN) --Law enforcement officials in Tulare County say they're going after gang members in one small town, using a new tool.
The Tulare County Sheriff's Department has created a civil gang injunction against Norteno or Northern gang members in the town of Earlimart-limiting what they can and can't do from here on out. It basically means gang members can no longer hang out together in public, and have to stay away from certain things, like guns and schools.
The Sheriff's Department says injunctions are effective (other gang injunctions are in Cutler/Orosi and Ivanhoe), and they expect the same results in Earlimart. Gus Garcia has never seen the point of being in a gang.
He's lived in Earlimart all his life and tells that to anyone he knows that's in a gang here. "Honestly, I tell them the same thing, I go what are you doing? What do you get out of it? You get nothing out of it," Garcia said.
Garcia says gangs are here, but the problem is not as bad as it used to be.
The Tulare County Sheriff's Department would disagree. They say in the last three years, there has been a huge increase in gang activity and gang violence, ranging from homicides to drive-bys. "The citizens of Earlimart have been intimidated, terrorized, quite frankly they're fearful within their own community to even go to their local store," Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux said at a press conference Friday morning.
That's why the sheriff's department and the district attorney's office are proud to announce a new civil injunction against 89 Northern gang members in Earlimart. So far, 37 of them have been served the injunction.
It tells them they can no longer hang out together in public, force anyone to join or stay in the gang, and must now stay away from schools and the students that attend them. "It's a tool for us," said Tulare County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Steve Sanchez. "It's a tool for the sheriff's department to contact gang members and it is an arrestable offense."
"I mean it's not a bad idea," said Gus Garcia when asked about the new injunction. Garica has a newborn baby boy, and says he probably won't raise him in Earlimart. Not because of anything bad-there are good people here too, who have nothing to do with gangs, and want to see them go away.
The sheriff's department says this injunction took years to put together, and thousands of hours of work.