Chief: Cuts won't cuff gang enforcement
by Justin Lafferty/ TP staff
Nov 10, 2009 | 4234 views | 26 26 comments | 30 30 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tracy police officer Ricky Hernandez handcuffs a known gang member wanted on a parole violation.  Glenn Moore/Tracy Press
view slideshow (2 images)
Though proposed budget cuts would eliminate half of the Tracy police department’s four-person gang unit, the city plans to curb street violence with early prevention and more alert and informed patrol officers.

Police Chief Janet Thiessen said her department is trying to reach kids who might join gangs through intervention and training its 45-or-so patrol officers to better recognize gang activity.

As the department will possibly be trimmed by one sergeant and two officers, among others, Thiessen said a crime analyst will be on board starting Nov. 16 to help organize and compile gang-related data. She also said that the department will work harder to determine which calls for service really merit sending out an arresting officer, rather than having a community services officer take a report over the phone.

Sgt. Terry Miller, the supervisor of youth services, including the gang unit, said there are more than 600 documented gang members in his database, the vast majority of whom live in Tracy. Miller said that so far this year, Tracy police have taken 160 gang members into custody.

Thiessen said that even though the number of officers could be reduced, police would still work hard to tamp down and prevent gang activity. Patrol officers are receiving more training in gang-related matters, since the gang unit cannot be everywhere. Miller’s three campus police officers will also be trained a bit more for gang prevention.

“With people rotating through assignments, you get a better, well-rounded officer on patrol,” Miller said. “They develop expertise and experience in different aspects in law enforcement.”

Miller’s unit goes to schools and, on request, into homes to talk to kids who are showing signs of gang activity. He said parents should become suspicious if their child asks for lots of clothes in one color or has a noticeable change of behavior, such as crossing out the letter “s” on homework assignments — a common occurrence among newly-recruited Norteño gang members.

Kids as young as seventh grade can be recruited, Miller said.

“(We’re) getting in with kids early, when they’re first misbehaving in the school environment, so that it doesn’t lead to greater issues,” Thiessen said.

The problem appears worse at the moment, police say, because of several recent high-profile incidents, including a fatal shooting Oct. 10 at downtown Tracy restaurant Amore’s and a drive-by shooting Nov. 1 on Corral Hollow Road.

Thiessen acknowledged that October was an unusually bad month and said that in the first nine months of the year, Tracy had just a 2 percent crime rate — the number of crimes committed compared to the population.

Miller said the trouble is largely caused by the Norteño and Sureño gangs, with a couple other subset groups also in the mix. Norteños usually wear red and use the number 14 as a symbol, Miller said, and Sureños use blue as their distinguishing color and 13 as their number. However, some gangs use alternate colors to fly under the radar.

Michael Mau, who is in prison facing charges that he killed one man and injured six others in the Amore’s shooting, is a Norteño, and so were some of the people with whom he associated, police allege.

The shooting on Corral Hollow, Miller said, was likely organized by the Sureños. Miller also said the 16-year-old victim of an Oct. 27 stabbing near Holly and Laguna drives was a Norteño, but there’s no indication that the suspects are gang-affiliated.

“Tracy’s always been heavily a Norteño town,” Miller said. “But recently, probably in the last three years or so, the Sureños have started to move and take hold in Tracy. We’re seeing a growing number of the Sureños.”

Thiessen said that residents, who should generally be aware of their surroundings, can help protect their neighborhood from gang activity. In addition to being cognizant of any suspicious changes their children are making, they can organize with other people. Thiessen commended the work done by Neighbors For Change, who meet monthly at North School and are working to keep El Pescadero Park safe from gangs.

“We’re going to continue and we’re not backing away from taking a strong stance on gang activity,” Thiessen said.
Comments
(26)
Comments-icon Post a Comment
sicofit
|
November 20, 2009
Your comments are on target shelly13. Nice work

Ellie S

Sounds to me like you have a bone to pick with the fire department. Here is a little education for you:

The fire department maintains 3 person staffing for their safety and your benefit. How does it benifit you?

Lets use the station(93) out on Durham Ferry Rd that you mention in your previous comments.

This particular station protects the largest area in sq. miles in the greater Tracy area. It is also located the furthest out from their next in back up of all the fire stations. They are the ones who service the "River Club" community, which is made up in large part of senior citizens and the Orchard R.V park out on Hwy 132. They cover Interstates 5 & 580, Highway 33 & 132. The Tracy Rural Fire protection District is still responsible for all areas outside of the city. The "merger" with the city of Tracy is bogus but thats another topic.

Lets assume you live near station (93) and your house catches fire at 3:30 in the morning. The engine arrives at your house and you are inside, down on the floor suffering from smoke inhalation. If there are only 2 people on this engine, they may not be able to come in after you. You see Ellie, there are regulations in the fire service that mandate when firefighters may safely enter a burning building. 2 in 2 out basicaly says that when 2 firefighters enter a building, there needs to be 2 firefighters outside ready to go in if there is a collapse or some other situation that requires an immediate reaction.

Mandates like this are put in place usually because somewhere firefighters have died in unsafe conditions trying to protect crybabies like you Ellie.

Can the 2 in 2 out rule be broken? Yes, 2 firefighters may enter if there is a life saving situation present, but then who is left to operate the equipment,(pump water because, yes Ellie they need water to put out da fire). That is why they have 3 people on an engine, for their saftey and yours. They may respond to only one call per day but that call might be to your house at 3:30 in the morning.

That is only one example of how 3 people at a fire station benefit us taxpayers. Use your imagination and think of the many reasons people call the fire department and I'm sure you can realize the benefits of the services provided to us.

Think about that Ellie, the next time you want to bash our public safety people.
ConcernedNeighbor
|
November 17, 2009
AMEN! to that, too, shelly13!

Sometimes I think some peoples' head are too far in their own pocket to see the real picture.

CN
shelly13
|
November 17, 2009
Why are we putting a greater value on one over the other? They are both important and the cuts need to come from somewhere else, period!
ConcernedNeighbor
|
November 17, 2009
Also, since drug is a problem between Mexico and USA, we have to be mindful of Cartels hiring younger and younger kids to carry out their acts, even killing. The number of young member are rising. USA immune from them?.... sadly, no.

Almost could measure the economy by ER visits.

CN
FirstResponder
|
November 17, 2009
Remember the FD does not only attend fires, they also attend accidents since they carry "jaws of life" to pry victims out of their vehicles.

They have tools the EM and PD do not have.

They have heavier equipments in which they use to rescue anyone... car or rig hanging over the bridge, things like that.

So FD are not just for fires, they are for emergencies of all sorts, too. Even chemical fire.

First responder or front line people are exposed to far more risks, injuries, even death and contracting disease from some diseased victims.

Make cuts elsewhere!!!

Leave the emergency crew alone. If you don't need them, you can't say the same for others!

CN

anonymous
|
November 17, 2009
You are correct. The FD has an average of one call for six active stations. What is the average for the PD? 10-30 times more calls.

Drove by the station on Central and the FD was weed wacking and watering the sidewalks. Talk about a cruise job!
shelly13
|
November 17, 2009
People b*tch about the FD until they need them at their home. Let's say we cut the FD and and it takes longer for them to come to one of your calls, seconds count you know. Then you'd probably b*tch that they took too long.

Again no cuts to EMS or Police!
sunshinetravel
|
November 17, 2009
Ellie S - please make sure you have your facts straight before you post something. "barely respond to 1 call per day" Are you serious? Walk in thier shoes for 24 hours.
RedHotChilliPeppers
|
November 16, 2009
Another question. We have more than just two fire stations. Where did you get info? TFD website does not show the data you are describing. Sounds eerily familiar to anonymous/adios blogger.
RedHotChilliPeppers
|
November 16, 2009
Maybe the downtown station. That is an administration building.
EllieS
|
November 16, 2009
The fire department keeps those kind of stats. It's not made up by bloggers.
RedHotChilliPeppers
|
November 16, 2009
I don't know how the 1-a-day was concluded. But, I'd guess that information comes from a few bloggers, like "adios" and "anonymous" ?
shelly13
|
November 16, 2009
All I can tell you is that I live right near a fire station and they go out with lights and sirens more than once a day. In fact two weekends ago I though it must have been that Armaggedon came. They were going past all day it seemed.

Find a way to keep all EMS and the cops. Do it city of Tracy. Cut elsewhere for God's sake!
EllieS
|
November 16, 2009
I'm kind of baffled how I post a relevant question that looks at an underused resource that costs the city a lot of money and suddenly I'm angry at firefighters?! I'm not angry at all. I'm a tax payer who has the right to question stupid decisions. And yes, the less than 1 call a day includes medical calls for these stations! How many calls a day does each police officer call answer? More than 1 I'm sure! So you are paying for equipment, utilities, and 6 full time employees salary to keep 2 stations that are not needed if they answer less than 1 call a day seems a waste of money to me! To have firefighters sitting idly when they could transfer them to other stations and close those down seems like it would make more sense. Let a few firefighters go and save a needed cop. Makes sense to a very un-angry me. Easy for you all to say for them to waive their raises, but how would you like to pay more taxes to save them instead?! No, well I'm sure they don't want to have to give up a COST OF LIVING raise! I suggest the chief, and upper management including the CM take a pay cut too!
MarleyNMe
|
November 15, 2009
ForThePublic,

FD is consolidated with the County. A good example was eluded to in your comment about Mountain House. The Fire Station in Mountain House is owned by the County. It is a Special Service District. So Mountain House pays for the Fire Department there. There are other Fire Stations around Tracy that are outside City Limits. That's because the City of Tracy consolidated with the County Fire Department.

On the other hand, the PD is located within city limits. When there is an police need in Mountain House or outside city limits they send a County Sherrif.

It might be a good idea not to take a 5% increase next year, but that might have to be negotiated with the unions. A Police Officer cannot him/her self say, "hey, we should just not take the salary increase". The unions don't allow that because it's not in their job description.

In much the same way the union leaders don't drive patrol cars, because that's not in their job description either. It will be interesting to see what happens though. Time will tell if their leaders will help align the laborers to unite, or stick to the jot and tittle of the contract. During tough times that will mean losing a few though.

We'll see how the negotiations go.
ConcernedNeighbor
|
November 13, 2009
Just to be sure not to confuse anyone, I did not have the experience of living a squatter's life, thank goodness, was speaking of reports of house fires/causes in Portland last winter.

CN
ConcernedNeighbor
|
November 13, 2009
There may be more "squatters" in abandoned homes, speaking from experience, several had started home fires from faulty heater here. They also steal electricity from other homes.

Police would have seen to it, in reporting and removing them from the premise, thus reducing incidence of fires?

Good luck.

Happens in every city!

CN

ForThePublic
|
November 12, 2009
Isn't one of the council member a retired officer? That makes no sense to why they would favor FD over the PD. Did you consider that maybe budget for PD is a lot more than FD therefore leaving more room for cuts. You may think these stations are unnecessary but does the people of mountain house think the same? People forget the FD does not only respond to fire but other calls just as medical and accidents. How about PD not take their 5% raise and save those positions? Stop being angry at the people who are working to protect you! Be angry at the people who have mismanaged your money!
anonymous
|
November 12, 2009
Council members have friends and relatives on the FD. That is why the FD is the favored public safety employees.
EllieS
|
November 12, 2009
Isn't it interesting that despite having 2 fire stations (requiring 3 employees around the clock) that barely respond to 1 call per day, there will be no fire layoffs or closing of these obviously unneeded stations! And yet the city manager wants to slash police jobs when crime is obviously not going away. Citizens need to wonder why the CM and city council are making these confusing budget decisions. Anyone else bothered by this?!

And if you are wondering where these stations are, they are Mountain House and Durham Ferry Rd.


We encourage readers to share online comments in this forum, but please keep them respectful and constructive. This is not a space for personal attacks, libelous statements, profanity or racist slurs. Comments that stray from the topic of the story or are found to contain abusive language are subject to removal at the Press’ discretion, and the writer responsible will be subject to being blocked from making further comments and have their past comments deleted. Readers may report inappropriate comments by e-mailing the editor at tpnews@tracypress.com.