It can be said that most communities throughout the country perceive or encounter gang violence. Gang activity has increased in Monterey County, causing homicide rates to climb at a very high scale. Salinas is located 10 miles east-southeast of the mouth of the Salinas River in the greater part of the bay area where gang retaliation has infested the streets with more deaths per year killing innocent bystanders, or other gang members.
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The community has been affected by tragic deaths from retaliation. “Twenty-four victims were slain in “most likely gang-related” cases over the past five years, and none of their killers were arrested,” said Salinas Police chief Kelly McMillin (Larson, 5). Salinas PD has struggled to inquire evidence to solve unjustified homicides that terrify the community. As a result, most of the community has become mute toward this problem because many wouldn’t want to interfere with an issue that would jeopardize their own life or their families lives. Crime rates overall have dropped in the last eight years but gang-related homicides continue to increase making Salinas the “Youth Murder Capital of California” (Vice News).
On average, youth from the ages 12 to 24 are victims to gang shootings. In Salinas, the community has distinguished parts of town where there is the nice side of town and the ugly side of town, which divides 150,000 people and local activity. The Southside of Salinas has been known to be calm and civilized amongst the citizens unlike the Eastside of town where it is known to have a more rugged environment. ¨The department has also embarked on some new projects, partnering with the community safety alliance in an ambitious prevention program that focuses on a roughly 20-block neighborhood in East Salinas known as Hebbron Heights, where violence is routine¨(Para. 14) Law enforcement has focused on certain parts of town that are more active but it doesn’t determine where future crime scenes will take place. Hebbron heights is known for the endless violence and criminality amongst local gangs. Homicides in Salinas have been rated the highest in California. Crimes overall have decreased in burglaries, theft, and grand theft auto. As Burglaries, theft and grand theft autos decrease, more violent crimes increase. According to Salinas Police department, the majority of homicides are gang-related. This article reviewed the criminal activity around the county and the progress that has been made to reduce criminal activity. In an article by the Californian the Senior researcher Mike Males states, “Since 2010, Salinas saw a drop of 11 percent in property crimes and 24 percent in violent crime”. Over the last eight years, violence has decreased due to programs and organizations trying to find methods to reduce unrighteous acts that harm local families. Organizations and other programs have worked together with other law enforcement, or the Salinas police department to have a better understanding of the gang activity throughout Monterey County. The number one problem that stops them from reaching their goal is the lack of funds. Chief Kelly McMillin from the Salinas Police Department states “As unsolved homicide cases multiply, McMillin has a shortage of patrol officers and is attempting to fill 30 vacancies within the Salinas Police Department”( KSBW p.14).
From 2015-2016 the Salinas Police Department had to make some serious cutbacks but were still able to manage and connect with other organizations. Various nonprofit organizers have fought this issue through law enforcement, education, job training, family counseling, substance abuse treatment, recreational activities and mentoring. The Salinas Comprehensive strategy for community-wide violence reduction has created strategies to reduce gang violence around the county. Their strategies consisted of bringing the community together and inform them of local reports. This strategy was intended to increase violence awareness and keep families connected with other locals to address any criminals acts.. “On a recent afternoon, Officer Lopez and Officer Lofton were knocking on doors chatting with residents and handing out fliers with information about social services”( Goode, 17). As part of her project Goode uses the County’s mental health agency to have Spanish chats, so the problem can be addressed to any locals. The Police Department opened a recreational center with two officers ready to assist anyone with help or with communicating with the public.
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