Lt. Greg Farmanian of the Tracy Police Department presented a report that details the progress of the violent crime and gang suppression to the City Council at its Tuesday, Jan. 17, meeting.
Farmanian said there are 802 gang members who have been identified in Tracy, an increase from 750 in May, he said. Of those identified, 588 are Tracy residents. A breakdown shows 601 Norteños and 120 Sureños.
Farmanian said the rise in documented members was expected because of the increased enforcement efforts. But the report also noted that identified gang members can remain on the list for five years with no repeat contact, so the count is not necessarily a point-in-time snapshot of gang numbers in the city.
Assaults declined from the third to the fourth quarter in 2011, police reported, as aggravated assault dropped from 21 to 12 and simple assaults fell from 109 to 105. Operation Gateway during the summer netted 31 gang member arrests, a big reason those numbers fell, Farmanian said.
“That’s the pattern we wanted to see, (a) decrease like that,” he said.
However, there were still more assaults in the fourth quarter of 2011 than in the fourth quarter of 2010, when eight aggravated assaults and 97 simple assaults were reported.
“We had a spike in November (2011) that we put extra manpower toward,” Farmanian said.
Under the gang plan, a six-officer team works in pairs to patrol gang-related areas from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. seven days a week on a one-year-rotation. Working the streets is one of the most important aspects of gang prevention, Farmanian said.
In 2011, more than 78 percent of contact between gang members and police was initiated by officers — with more than 70 percent of that contact resulting in arrests, Farmanian told the council.
“It’s critical that we’re out on the streets,” he said.
Gang unit officers also give gang prevention presentations to school students, juveniles on probation and the community in hopes of raising awareness against joining gangs.
The Tracy Police Department also continues to work with surrounding
police agencies to track regional gang members as they move between communities. The department uses CalGangs — a database to track gang members — but has difficulty getting similar efforts from other departments.
Farmanian told Councilman Steve Abercrombie that Tracy works with the Hayward Police Department to prevent transient crime from the Bay Area.
“We’ve been trying to work at the county level to get some meetings, but nothing is happening,” he said.
Police Chief Gary Hampton said the recent reorganization of his department has enhanced the gang initiative.
While gang prevention will be the department’s top priority in 2012, Hampton said property crimes account for 93 percent of reported crime, and he vowed to aggressively target those crimes that “really impact our quality of life.”
In other discussions, the council:
• Voted unanimously to authorize city staff to draft language that would amend zoning ordinances to allow private schools to have street-side signs. Public schools are already exempt from the ordinance. If approved, signs would be authorized for schools on more than 1 acre, including free-standing signs and those with a scrolling message.
• Unanimously approved the allocation of $113,000 to cover salary increases resulting from reclassification of city staff. The money would support eight positions in five departments. City staffers said the costs are offset by the nearly $7 million saved by staff cuts since 2009 and are necessary to reflect increased responsibilities taken on by those eight workers.