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Gun Violence Problem In Salinas Takes Center Stage

By Marissa Schwartz, Reporter, MarissaSchwartz@kionrightnow.com
Published On: Mar 03 2014 11:22:58 PM CST
Updated On: Mar 04 2014 01:12:58 AM CST

Salinas Police Hope to put an End to Gun Violence Within the City

SALINAS, Calif. -

Gun violence is taking center stage in one central coast city known for having a lot of trouble with gangs.  We have new information on what it means for our community.  The Salinas Police Department is sifting through four years worth of information on gun violence and shootings.  That information will be presented to city leaders Tuesday night.  As homicide rates continue to stay high, police officers say the only way it's going to stop is if the good in the community starts to outshine the bad. 

"Take a look at, I’m here, that came out in a certain area.  What's the fastest way to get there," said Salinas Police Officer Cameron Murphy, as he describes his first thoughts when reports of a shooting come across his call log.

"Then the next thing we're looking for is victims.  How many are there?  What's the suspect information?" said Murphy.

Murphy, an 11 year Salinas police veteran, said he uses his military skills to handle the amount of violent calls he takes on a daily basis. 

"It’s not uncommon to see that progression of the youth going from very minor and relatively petty things, to more and more serious and more and more violent crimes," said Murphy.

That's no surprise because a recent report by Salinas Police says 90 percent of homicides are gang-involved, the city has 23 active gang sets and gang members make up half of one-percent of the population.  Hispanic males, in their late teens to mid-20s, who are also involved in gangs are most at risk.  The report also identifies East Salinas as the most dangerous neighborhood in the late afternoon into the evening. 

"Think that's some of the mindset that a lot of people have that work with kids that we all think that it's younger and that right there says its really not," said Brian Contreras with 2nd Chance Family and Youth Services.

Contreras is a fixture in East Salinas.  He's worked with troubled kids in the neighborhood for twenty-five years.  He hopes this new information on gun violence will open parents' eyes to the reality. 

Murphy said he believes school resource officers are needed to make a real dent in the gang crime issue in Salinas.  The city hasn't had any officers in schools for a couple of years now.