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San Mateo Co. Gang Task Force gears up for summer

May 16, 2012 7:33:10 PM PDT
Summer is just around the corner and that's a time when gang activity typically picks up, but there is a warning from one gang task force -- they're stepping up their enforcement efforts.

The San Mateo County Gang Task Force began its summer deployment. There are nearly 100 members on the task force and they went through a training session to catch up on the latest gang information.

Law enforcement agencies recently won a significant victory against gangs in South San Francisco. This training session comes on the heels of the large scale gang sweep two weeks ago, which decapitated the leadership of a violent South San Francisco gang.

"I think it's really going to send a message to the gang members that we're out there and we are going to target these violent groups," said San Mateo County Gang Task Force Det. Jamie Draper.

Draper led a seminar on biker gangs. He's a seasoned veteran of the gang task force. He says there are about 2,500 identified gang members in San Mateo County. Most belong to the Nortenos, who wear red as their gang color. Draper also says they're now recruiting kids as young as 11.

"That's probably when they're starting the propaganda phase and trying to pull them in and recruit them and stuff, and then they're probably becoming members somewhere around 12 or 13 years old," said Draper.

In the training session were 120 sheriff's deputies and officers from every police department in the county. The goal of their 16-week summer deployment is to prevent gangs from organizing into larger, more sophisticated groups.

"We're able to come in there and intensely disrupt their activities, put their leadership in jail, and dismantle gangs as we go throughout the county," said San Mateo County Gang Task Force Capt. Doug Davis.

The gang task force even has specialized radio dispatchers, who were also training for their important mission.

"To provide them with information, track and monitor their status so they can go home safe at the end of the night," said San Mateo County Communications employee Elise Moeck.

Now with social networking and an expanding drug trade, local street gangs are moving their tentacles to other cities.

"Gangs have no borders. They affect everybody and they affect all parts of the community," said Davis.

"We want to eradicate gangs from neighborhoods so people feel comfortable in their own neighborhoods," said San Mateo County Gang Task Force Sgt. Ted Medford.

The ultimate goal of the task force is to improve the quality of life in neighborhoods where gangs have taken over.


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