If you ask law enforcement, gang injunction zones are effective. If you ask some in the public they smack of civil rights violations. Nora emailed me and asks, “Dear Jon, are there any gang injunction zones on the Central Coast?”
I did a phone survey of the counties here on the Central Coast and I found this to be a polarizing topic; there's not a lot of middle ground on the subject.
Gang injunction zones are set up in cities or in unincorporated areas of a county that law enforcement wants to keep validated gang members out. It gives law enforcement the authority to arrest any validated gang member that sets foot in the injunction zone.
There currently is no gang injunction zone in Monterey County. Salinas did have a gang injunction zone in the late 90s. Detectives say it was an effective way to police, but it was labor and paper intensive. As time went on, gang members changed their tactics and the gang injunction zones pushed the gangsters to other areas. So there was no further need for the injunction zone.
Santa Cruz County and San Luis Obispo County currently have no gang injunction zones.
But in Santa Barbara County, when Sheriff Bill Brown was police chief in Lompoc, he was successful in getting an injunction there.
Currently, the conversation in the city of Santa Barbara is whether a gang injunction zone is a good idea. This discussion is 3 years old, but heightened this week after city attorneys sent a draft gang injunction to the council.
On Tuesday, council members heard from community members opposed to the city plan to keep 30 validated gang members out of town. Attorneys for the city have drafted a plan for an injunction zone, which if approved, could go into effect at the end of this month.
We'll see if this proposal has any legs with the City Council. There is reportedly some dissension among their ranks on this issue. Stay tuned!
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