Lompoc police report increase in gang activity in past month - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Lompoc police report increase in gang activity in past month

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Police say gang activity is on the rise in the city of Lompoc. 

"This here is a bullet impact strike. As you can see, it's in direct line where we saw shell casings right back there," described Lompoc Police Sgt. Agustin Arias at the scene of a recent shooting.
Police say three prominent gangs have been in the city for more than a decade, but there's been an increase in activity just this month. Officers say it's because of early releases from prison.
"In the last month, about four to five shootings reported, but for a community of 45,000 people, that's too much activity," said Sgt. Arias.
During a ride along with police, KSBY reporter Megan Abundis spoke with a couple of gang members who did not want to be identified but shared their experiences of being released early from prison.

One man explained how he got out of state prison early for possession of methamphetamine: 
"Prop 47, prop 47 let you early?" 
"Yeah, about 6 months." 
"6 months earlier than you were supposed to get out? And then when you got out, how long did you have to do on probation?"
"No probation?"

Another man says he got out two years early for attempted murder:
"When were you supposed to get off though?"
"On my 23rd birthday."
"And you got off when you were 21 instead?"
"Because of new laws like AB 109, Prop 47, Prop 57 there's probably an additional 40-50 walking the streets freely when they should be incarcerated," said Sgt. Arias.
Sgt. Arias says most of these early release criminals are active gang members returning to Lompoc.

"(They want to) control territory, to bully people, to run their criminal enterprise and not be bothered by citizens who are going to call the police or by the police itself," said Arias.

However, at least one of the gang members said he wants help and the structure of jail: 
"You need the structure to get clean?"
"I need the help. I need to be put on probation or some sort of structure. I ain't gonna lie."
Police say there are more than 700 active gang members in the city right now. 

"Quite frankly, it's a vicious cycle. There is always going to be retaliation and there's always going to be conflict with the two groups. Parents need to be vigilant and know that this type of activity is happening, and it hasn't really slowed down," said Sgt. Arias.

Lompoc police say they are continuing to aggressively investigate gang and narcotics offenses. 
They want parents to be aware of what their children are doing, any changes in friend groups or changes in appearance, especially as summer rolls around because police say that's when gangs are recruiting young kids. 

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