Gangs are flourishing in Watsonville.
Crime may be down in Watsonville, according to figures released yesterday. It may even be the lowest it’s been since 2000. There is, however, one type of crime that is on rise in the city. Gang violence increased 41 percent from 2008 to 2009. Some residents say that they are scared, but Watsonville Police Chief Manny Solano says that the figures only tell half of the story. “That increase is only because officers are out there identifying who is responsible and targeting those who we believe are carrying out the majority of the violence.” In other words, the spike in violence means that more arrests are being made to prevent the real violence in the first place.
And there is a spike. In 2005 there were 67 gang-motivated crimes, including homicides, robberies, assaults, and illegal weapon possession. In 2009, there were 203, and that number includes three out of the four homicides in the city, as well as several drive-by shootings, which resulted in casualties but no deaths.
In order to assess the real impact of gang violence, the Watsonville PD is introducing a new crime statistics management program. Solano says that this will help the police department identify crime trends and assign officers based on those trends.
Read More at the Santa Cruz Sentinel.