East Palo Alto police conducting gang sweeps

June 29, 2011 5:54:00 PM PDT
East Palo Alto police have put gang members on notice.

Police officers hit more than a dozen locations on Monday, a show of force to crack down on gang violence within the city, but the ongoing budget crisis isn't helping police go after alleged gang members.

Officers conducting the sweep were looking for known gang members on probation and parole. At one stop, police stopped and photographed a man named Jose Loya, who is on probation but says he's not part of a gang.

"I was embarrassed, surprised, shocked, scared," Loya said. "I wanted to run."

The gang sweeps are specifically intended to put the pressure on the Nortenos and Surenos. The sweep was the foruth operation since gang violence claimed the life of a three-month-old baby in early June.

Izack Jimenez Garcia died in a hail of bullets whine his family was mistakenly targeted by gang members as they were leaving a baby shower.

"Families, people in general, anybody that lives here or visits this city should be able to drive down the street and not have to worry about gunfire," said Sgt. Dave Carzon with the East Palo Alto police department.

In 2005, there were 15 murders and more than 150 shootings in East Palo Alto. In the past five years, with help from the State Division of Law Enforcement, murders have dropped by more than 70 percent.

Baby Izack's death has once again called attention to the senseless violence.

"Justice needs to be done for the baby," said East Palo Alto resident Tatiana Wells.

The renewed gang sweeps in East Palo Alto come as California is poised to cut $71 million from the State Division of Law Enforcement. East Palo Alto Police Chief Ron Davis is blasting the move as adding to the public safety threat.

"This is more than just cutting a unit," Davis said. "This is cutting a significant resource we need more than in the past ten years because of the fiscal crisis and the threat of transnational gangs in California."

Local, state and federal agencies will meet in East Palo Alto on July 6 to try to come up with some ideas on the issue of gang violence, especially with the upcoming expectation that state resources will become decimated.

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