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By Henrietta J. Burroughs                      
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Posted on Thursday, July 7, 2011  
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Photo of law enforcement conference
East Palo Alto Chief of Police Ron Davis addresses press briefing
at the Four Seasons Hotel in East Palo Alto on Wednesday,
July 6, 2011.
See a video excerpt from the meeting.

More than 70 law enforcement officials met at the Four Seasons Hotel in East Palo Alto this past Wednesday in a show of unity against gang violence. The officials represented federal, state and county agencies ranging from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, the FBI, the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office to local and state prison officials.

The law enforcement officials were at the Four Seasons to attend a conference, which was called by East Palo Alto’s Chief of Police Ron Davis. Davis said the purpose of the conference was twofold. It was designed to allow the participating enforcement agencies to unite and to let gangs across the nation “understand what they’re up against.”

The strong show of unity among the conference attendees came a month after the murder of three-month-old Izack Jesus Jimenez Garcia and the wounding of his parents, Ivonne Garcia Lopez and Oscar Jimenez when they left a baby shower in East Palo Alto on Sunday, June 5, 2011.

Davis said the infant’s death was the moving force behind the morning meeting. In emphasizing this point, he said that with the infant’s murder, the Nortenos and Surenos gang members “made themselves the primary focus of the people in this room.”

During the press conference, it was noted that, while crime nationwide has been decreasing, gang activity, in such areas as drug dealing, extortion, robbery and gang rivalries, is on the increase. The law enforcement officials speaking at the press briefing seemed unanimous in their acknowledgement that gang activity in the country is not an isolated phenomenon relegated to local gangs.

They said that the gangs are transnational, are highly organized and structured and have a chain of command.

San Mateo County Sheriff Greg Munks said that 20% of the county’s jail population had validated gang members. Davis told reporters that many gangs originated in prison and that gang activity centered on money. This being the case, law enforcement officials said that they would focus on disrupting gang operations and decreasing the gangs’ cash flow.

Several of the officials, who spoke, talked about the devastating effect that current budget cuts were having on their agencies. Yet, in spite of the cuts, they said that they were confident that they would still be able to wage a successful effort to keep the transnational gangs in check and to stop gang violence from spreading.

East Palo Alto City Council member Ruben Abrica said that he was happy to see the level of support from the law enforcement community and that he thought it would tell gang members, “You cannot cross the line and commit atrocities.”

In echoing Abrica’s point, Davis said the level of pressure law enforcement officials were prepared to bring on the gangs would cause them to say among themselves, “We stepped on something that was so egregious [referring to show of force which has now resulted because of baby Izack’s murder] that we never want to do that again.”

To contact the author of this article, Henrietta J. Burroughs, send an email to epatoday@epatoday.org.


Additional resources:

Police sweeps send a message to gang members, East Palo Alto Today, June 29, 2011.

Charges filed by San Mateo County DA in triple shooting, East Palo Alto Today,
June 8, 2011.

Two suspects arrested in triple shooting, East Palo Alto Today, June 6, 2011.

Three-month old baby shot and killed in triple shooting, June 5, 2011.


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