Mar 15, 2011 9:49 PM by Ariel Wesler
Santa Barbara city leaders are fighting back against gang crime in the community. Santa Barbara announced today it has filed for a gang injunction. That injunction targets 30 known gang members who live in the city. If approved, the court order would ban those gang members from certain areas of the city.
Sections of Santa Barbara could soon be off limits to a select group of 30 gang members. The city's police department is cracking down on gang crime through an injunction.
"Ours is focused on identifying 30 individuals who we believe has caused us the most grief in terms of gangs," said Santa Barbara Police Chief Cam Sanchez.
It would establish safety zones in parts of the city including the Eastside, Westside, downtown, and certain parks, where police say the vast majority of gang crime occurs. Any gangs found operating or recruiting in those areas would be arrested.
"We've seen the intimidation and recruitment of our young people and this is just unacceptable period," Sanchez said.
Previously, Sanchez did not support a gang injunction, but says gang activity is now having a direct impact on the community.
"If you're a gang member, you can certainly go to the park and have a good time, but you don't go to a park and intimidate families and shew them out and claim the park as your own. That's a problem," Sanchez said.
"These days, I don't think there's a safe place in Santa Maria no more, said John Hernandez of Santa Maria.
With gang activity throughout the city, Police Chief Danny Macagni says an injunction is not a good option for Santa Maria.
"They're spread out city wide. They don't have one little area and that's where a gang injunction can be a tool, if you have a specific area that they have taken over," Macagni said.
It could take up to six months for the court to approve Santa Barbara's injunction.
Chief Macagni says his department will continue to consider whether a gang injunction could be an option in the future.
There are no gang injunctions in San Luis Obispo County.
So how many gang members are there in the cities of Santa Barbara and Santa Maria? In Santa Barbara, police say the number fluctuates, but it's about 250 in the city.
There are two major gangs in Santa Barbara: the Eastside and Westside gangs...they hang East and West of state Street.
Police say there are about 850 known gang members in Santa Maria and that most are in one of three major gangs in the city: The Northwest Gang, West Park Gang and West Land Clique, which used to be part of the West Park Gang.
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