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By Henrietta J. Burroughs                        Follow East Palo Alto Today on
East Palo Alto Today                     Facebook    Twitter         Blog    
Tuesday, May 21, 2013                   
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After nine shootings in the past two weeks, East Palo Alto’s Chief of Police Ron Davis announced that his department is increasing its response to the wave of continued violence that has hit East Palo Alto. On Monday of this week, Davis instituted a “crime emergency” that allows the East Palo Alto Police Department “to cancel days off for the city’s police officers and “make swift assignment changes as needed.”

This crime emergency, which goes into effect today, Tuesday, May 21, 2013, more than doubles the number of patrol officers throughout East Palo Alto during critical time periods.

Law enforcement officials think the five murders and the 50 firearm assaults that have occurred since January are gang related and specifically associated with a gang called the Nortenos. Over the past year, the intensity of the feud between the Norteno and Sureno gangs, which led to violence in 2011 that resulted in the death of a three-month-old baby, had lessened.

Now, law enforcement officials are working under the assumption that the shootings over the past few weeks are primarily the work of the Nortenos. In a Tweet sent Monday, Davis said, “We believe the recent spate of violence is caused by an internal power struggle within the Nortenos."

To avoid any retaliatory shootings that might occur, the East Palo Alto Police Department and other law enforement agencies “will focus strictly on identified Nortenos in East Palo Alto and throughout San Mateo County.”

This week’s 'crime emergency’ declaration comes after the East Palo Alto Police Department held a press briefing on May 6, with other local agencies, to demonstrate the degree to which both community officials and law enforcement agencies are united in their efforts to end the violence affecting East Palo Alto.

This week, as in the press briefing, Davis said that the police department will continue its Operation SMART activities and will work closely with other allied law enforcement agencies to stop the violence and arrest the perpetrators.

In his Monday Tweet to the community, Davis listed the arsenal of approaches that are being used to end the violence. These approaches include -- in addition to the focus on the Nortenos gang -- the continuation of the Operation Ceasefire” call-in” with key gang members and the use of various community measures such as the increase of summer activities for the city's youth.

A “Chat with the Chief” meeting to give community members an update on the police department’s efforts to stop the current outbreak in violence is planned for June.

Henrietta J. Burroughs, the author of this article can be contacted by email at epatoday@epatoday.org.