Two months before Novato police conducted a two-week scheduling experiment in late July to curtail gang activity, the Marin County Civil Grand Jury released a report on gang activity in Marin County. For those following this issue in Novato and who have not seen the report, it is attached at the right. The 10 conclusions made by the grand jury were as follows:
* The County Probation Department plays a significant role in limiting local gang activity. Their job functions afford them the extended time required to build relationships and trust with their probationers.
* Marin has comparatively low resident gang activity but it is a tempting target and market for the significant gangs residing in Santa Rosa, Napa, Vallejo, Richmond, Oakland and San Francisco.
* Organizations that can keep youth busy during their leisure hours with extended schooling or recreational activities may well decrease their interest in gang affiliation.
* Most gang crime is committed against other gangs or within the gangs themselves. Crimes against citizens are typically serendipitous crimes of opportunity.
* While gang members are to be held responsible for choosing the gang life, several of those we interviewed joined because they saw no other option available to them to "escape" their violent, neglectful or impoverished environments.
* A number of gang members claimed they would "opt out" if they had the social and economic opportunities and the support and encouragement to do so.
* The topmost gang leaders or shot-callers are incarcerated in our state prisons but they are able to effectively direct their criminal enterprises from their cells.
* Nighttime gang sweeps are an effective, pro-active method for keeping gang probationers in check while gaining valuable information that can be used to prevent potential problems before they occur.
* Increased coordination and interdepartmental cooperation would ensure that gang sweeps are safer and more efficient.
* There is presently no single gang-related database in use by all county enforcement personnel.
The two recommendations made by the grand jury were as follows:
* Nighttime gang sweeps be continued, and the county probation chief, chiefs of police from Novato and San Rafael, and the county sheriff should collaborate to find ways to make sweeps even more effective and safer by creating and maintaining consistent sweep teams.
* The chiefs of police of Novato and San Rafael, the county sheriff and the county probation chief evaluate existing gang databases, and choose, and install the most effective option for regular use by all law enforcement personnel in Marin County by the end of 2011.