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By Henrietta J. Burroughs                Follow East Palo Alto Today on
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Thursday, November 29, 2012                
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An upsurge in violence is causing growing concern for area residents and for local police departments as well. Over the past six months, the cities of East Palo Alto and Menlo Park experienced more than a dozen shootings and several murders.

Working together using shared crime information, the police departments in East Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Palo Alto concluded that the shootings were the result of  “a violent feud between two street gangs: the “Taliban” based primarily in Menlo Park and the “DaVill” based primarily in East Palo Alto.”

The police are not saying, yet, what triggered the gang feud that led to the current spate of violence, but both Chief Ron Davis from the East Palo Alto Police Department and Menlo Park’s Interim Police Chief Lee Violett commented on the fact that, given the number of shootings, the death toll could be higher.

Last year this time there were seven murders in East Palo Alto, compared to six this year, even with the spate of shootings.

The latest reported shooting occurred about 11:30 a.m on November 27 when a 19 year old male was shot on Bay Rd and Palo Verde in East Palo Alto. So far, there have been four arrests for three shootings cases that are gang related.

Last July, the East Palo Alto Department formed the Special Duty Unit (SDU) in response to the increase in shootings and has thus far made 125 arrests for various crimes that have been committed in the city.

In spite of the recent increase in violence, the latest crime figures for East Palo Alto, show that crime is down in every category except for assaults, where it is up. So, far this year, the crime figures for January 1 to October 31 show that overall crime in East Palo Alto is down by 14%.

In responding to the most recent gang violence and in adding to the crime fighting measures that they already have in place, the East Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Palo Alto Police Departments formed a partnership to create and implement a multiagency violence reduction plan called Operation SMART.

Under the plan, the three police departments will: 

Coordinate gang and narcotics enforcement operations targeted at the Taliban and DaVill gangs.

 Form the Homicide & Aggravated Assault Response Team (HART) to respond to all shootings related to these gangs.

 Conduct a “Social Network Analysis” of Violence Victims and Offenders for both gangs and all related shootings and murders.

 Conduct two “Operation Ceasefire” call-ins for both gangs in January involving all three police agencies, community leaders and service providers.

 Refer members of both gangs that are on probation and/or parole to the David Lewis Community Reentry Program.

Use Social Media to send a unified message of non-violence and seek community support and involvement.

A report about Operation SMART was presented to the Menlo Park City Council on November 27. Chief Davis is expected to discuss the plan and give an update regarding the latest crime data for the community at his “Chat with the Chief” meeting scheduled for December 11 at 6 p.m. in the East Palo Alto Municipal Building at 2415 University Avenue in East Palo Alto.

The East Palo Alto Police Department continues to request that anyone with information about any crime committed in the city contact the department through one of the following means:

Send an anonymous email to epa@tipnow.org
Send an anonymous text from your cell phone to 650-409-6792
Leave an anonymous voice mail by calling 650-409-6792 or 650-853-8477.


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