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Injunctions curbing gangs said `quick fix’

first_img “This is a violent street gang responsible for crimes over the years ranging from vandalism to murder,” said Vuncanon. “We needed a tool to fight them. The injunction is a great tool because it tells gang members that there are certain crimes that would normally be lawful are now unlawful.” Police say calls for service have gone down dramatically since the injunction. Residents say they feel safer. “It’s way better now,” said Esparanza Navarro, 21, who lives near Chet Holifield Park. “Back then, it was real bad. You couldn’t walk the streets. Now, I see the cops more – especially the gang unit.” Citywide, all crimes but rape decreased slightly in the first six months of 2005, compared with the first six months of 2004, according to arrest reports. However, juvenile crimes have increased this year, according to Couso-Vasquez. UC Irvine and USC researchers found that gang injunctions offer positive short-term results, but are less effective for longer-term remediation, according to a study, “It’s Getting Crazy Out There: Can a Civil Gang Injunction Change a Community?” Released in September, the report focused on the city of San Bernardino. “What we found was that people reported being less intimidated in the streets and less hassled,” said its co-author, Karen Hennigan. “What we didn’t find was any increase in community cohesiveness, such as trusting your neighbors and having a sense of community.” The report recommended that, to prevent things from eventually going back to the way they were, community programs such as job training and education should supplement the injunction. Probation Officer Billy Pope works with gang members in Santa Fe Springs. “Kids need something to do, someone to love and something to look forward to. Gangs can provide that,” he said. “The gang fulfills basic needs of children. But we need to provide that for them instead of gangs, with a collaboration between schools, residents and city officials.” [email protected] (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3026160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! MONTEBELLO – A year after the city imposed an injunction against its most active gang, crime has decreased and residents say they feel safer. However, some officials and researchers caution that the immediate results of the injunction could be deceptive. The injunction restricts gang members from congregating in the greater Montebello area, particularly the southern portion of the city and Chet Holifield Park. If caught by deputies in those areas, gang members can be served with the injunction and arrested on a misdemeanor charge, which can carry a sentence such as jail time or community service. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week “We find their turf – where they congregate – and designate it a safe area,” said Montebello Police Department Chief Garry Couso-Vasquez. “If we catch two gang members walking down the street, they are served with the injunction and arrested if they violate that injunction. The feedback I get is that residents feel safer now.” The area designated by the injunction is determined by police and courts and based on crime reports. While gang injunctions are common in Los Angeles, they are unusual in the Whittier area. Montebello is one of the first local cities to impose the restriction, though its popularity is spreading. Hawaiian Gardens, Florence and Compton will soon adopt similar measures. In Montebello, the injunction can be served to gang members who are outside after the 10 p.m. curfew without a legitimate reason and if they are intimidating residents, among other things. So far, about 25 arrests have been made through the injunction, said Montebello police Detective Andy Vuncanon. Those arrests included charges involving narcotics, being outside after curfew and carrying graffiti implements. last_img read more