SSF votes to add more police, fight gang violence

January 27, 2011 1:07:41 PM PST
The South San Francisco City Council voted Wednesday night to invest in four new police officers and a variety of neighborhood outreach programs in response to a spike in gang killings that have occurred in the city over the past year.

Police Chief Mike Massoni brought the proposal before the City Council to use $400,000 of the city's emergency reserves to pay for the added positions, which would raise the level of sworn officers to 83, create a Neighborhood Response Team and reassign an officer to a school liaison program that had been suspended due to budget cuts.

"There is a gang problem in South San Francisco," Massoni said. "They're out there, they're carrying guns, they're active."

More than a dozen people addressed the City Council during public comment, most of them asking the city to consider more outreach and recreational programs in addition to more police.

"Please don't forget about helping kids in the area," resident Gabby Garcia said.

Mayor Kevin Mullin said $50,000 of the emergency funds would be allocated to fund a Community Coalition on Safe Neighborhoods, which would be made up of community leaders from the troubled "Old Town" neighborhood, as well as city leaders, nonprofit organizations, business owners and school district representatives.

"The key is that our approach be a balanced and thoughtful one, including suppression, intervention and prevention," Mullin said.

"We can do it all if we do this right," he said.

Before approving the resolution, the mayor's colleagues on the City Council pleaded with the community to continue to work with the city to tackle the gang problem.

"I think this is a parenting issue as well," Councilwoman Karyl Matsumoto said.

"'Thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not harm'...These are things that are inculcated at home," Matsumoto said.

"The police officers are fine," Councilman Pedro Gonzales said. "But they're not going to solve the problem.

"If we don't have the support of the parents and the youth, we're going to continue to have more problems," Gonzales said.

On Dec. 22, three people were killed and three others were wounded in a drive-by shooting near Eighth Lane and Linden Avenue.

The survivors have not been cooperating with police investigators and few witnesses have come forward, South San Francisco police Sgt. Joni Lee said.