By Sheriff Gregory Munks, San Mateo County, California
The Coastside Neighborhood Response Team, formed in March of 2012, has already shown major results. The multiagency task force identified over 100 gang members and nearly 100 more affiliates in only a few months. Identifying gang members serves several purposes. First, it allows law enforcement to patrol certain areas more effectively. Second, when a crime is committed, those responsible are more easily identified and apprehended. Third, by California state law, a perpetrator who has committed a crime linked to gang activity receives greater punishment when convicted and sentenced. This allows for stricter sentences, getting criminals off the street. Finally, knowing that they have been identified may discourage some individuals from committing crimes because of a higher risk of capture.
Efforts to combat gang activity in San Mateo and surrounding counties involve multiple strategies. Other than identifying, watching, and apprehending those already in gangs, police and community leaders conduct gang prevention education in the community. The police also encourage parents to be involved in their children’s lives and look for signs that they or their friends may be involved in gangs. Additionally, community programs work to keep teens positively occupied. Stopping gang violence involves more than just apprehending criminals; it is about preventing our youth from becoming criminals in the first place.
For more information on the Coastside Neighborhood Response Team and ways to prevent local youth from joining gangs, contact the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office or visit the website at www.smcsheriff.com.
About Sheriff Greg Munks: Heading San Mateo County law enforcement since 2006, Sheriff Munks supports neighborhood associations working collaboratively with law enforcement to achieve long-term community improvement.