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Temporary Gang Suppression Effort Deemed a Success by Novato Police

But chief warns that rescheduling of personnel comes at a sacrifice to other parts of the police force.

Novato’s police chief said a two-week concentrated effort to was a rousing success, but continuing the effort is unlikely because of the lack of available personnel.

The department started July 20 with its ad hoc gang enforcement/street crimes unit using existing officers and no more overtime than usual, Chief Joseph Kreins said Thursday. But other important tasks were put on hold so extra anti-gang patrols could be scheduled.

Officers made contact with 37 members or associates of gangs, including Crips, Surenos, Nortenos and white supremacists. Six were arrested and face felony charges.

Novato PD committed two detectives, a sergeant and two officers to work with representatives from the Marin County Major Crimes Task Force, the Marin County Coordination of Probation Enforcement team, San Rafael police and the Marin County Probation Department.

Why can’t it just continue?

“You can only stretch the scheduling adjustments so far,” Kreins said. “Those two investigators we pulled off … their cases didn’t go away for two weeks. Those two patrol officers, their teams were at minimum staffing while they were away. So while they were working on the gang suppression, all that other work was piling up.”

Kreins’ department staffing is at 55 sworn officers — matching a level of 20 years ago — and is about a dozen fewer than San Rafael or Petaluma. He said the return on investment with the temporary anti-gang unit was very high, but he will continue to lobby for two officers to focus on anti-gang efforts full-time. He said that would cost the city about $250,000 annually.

“I’ve lobbied for that since the day I got here,” he said. “Even just having two officers on that assignment would pay tremendous dividends. In my opinion, if we were going to spend some money, this is the most bang for our buck. I just don’t think there’s a more important need out there. The results speak for themselves.”

Other results of the experiment included:

— Approximately 92 traffic stops on suspected gang members.

— 17 misdemeanor arrests of gang members.

— 8 probation searches.

— 26 hours of foot patrol in areas known for gang activity.

— Sharing of gang intelligence with allied agencies.

— Seizure of weapons and drugs.

— Vehicle impounds.

Novato police Lt. Keith Heiden said ultimately it will be for the chief to decide what happens next, but he was pleased with the information gathered during the stepped-up enforcement period.

“It was interesting to see the different types of gangs we contacted,” he said. “Personally the one I was surprised about was the Crips member (out of Southern California).

“I can tell you it was satisfying because when we get into police work it’s because we want to help somebody, but we also like to be proactive and suppress crime if we can. Part of helping people is protecting people, and these types of operations make our city safer.”

Kreins said the benefits of the two-week enforcement period will be long-term because of the contacts made in the gangs and other peripheral associates. Identify gang members now, even if they are not arrested for breaking any laws, is part of the intelligence gathering process that can really aid crime investigators down the line, he said.

“If nothing else, this has them looking over their shoulders,” he said.

Tina McMillan August 11, 2011 at 03:46 PM
Bob Thanks for the support.
Trish Boorstein August 11, 2011 at 05:56 PM
It's imperative that we all stay engaged and fight this agenda. We all have our own styles that we must honor without berating each other. We can't afford to snuff ourselves out! Pat Eklund and I attended the most recent ABAG Board meeting in Oakland last month. Other than a few local residents, I spoke specifcally about Priority Development Areas (PDA) in Marin Co. and how Novato made no such request due to the impact it would have on our community. Since the County of Marin and San Rafael were the only two who requested PDAs, I told ABAG that Novato and other Marin jurisdictions must not absorb any of SR's or Marin Co.'s new housing quota. Both have to accept their PDA burdern. I made the following request,"Novato requests that in Revised or Alternate Scenarios, ABAG holds the County of Marin and the City of San Rafael responsible for 100% of their new PDA housing allocation." I also reminded them of Novato's 20% of Marin's population and how Novato provides 33% of the Affordable Housing. We also spoke about reinstating the SOI 50/50 split between County and cities. After I spoke an Oakland Council member complained about how Oakland keeps having to build more and more affordable housing and how she thought all the other cities were supposed to take their share. Ken Kirby beautifully inserted something like, "At the next Scenario we will take into account what Oakland has built and have other cities like Peidmont do more" I almost fell out of my chair!!!! In a way...
Trish Boorstein August 11, 2011 at 06:06 PM
Novato is like the Oakland of Marin County! That's why this whole agenda isn't going to work. The Novato's, Oakland's, etc., out there have to but the brakes on this planning! We have to show up and continue shoving a hot poker at them at all levels. There will be another meeting in the Fall, to take up Eklund's sweat equity research about the SOI split.
Jerome J Ghigliotti Jr August 11, 2011 at 06:14 PM
Excellent. Thank you for expressing community values.
Susan Clark August 19, 2011 at 02:28 AM
And how much money was spent by the council memebers and city manager for consultants??? We could have funded another year of gang force patrol. Too much waste and no clue by our so called leaders!!!

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