Last week, Gilroy Patch sent a set of questions submitted by readers to candidates running for local office. One of those questions concerned gang violence in Gilroy.
Mayor candidates Peter Arellano, Don Gage and Dion Bracco took the time to respond. An earlier version of this article included no response from Bracco.
Gage and Arellano present fundamentally different strategies for dealing with gang violence. Gage favors a reactive approach while Arellano thinks a proactive approach is more useful. See their takes on the issue below.
Question: Is Gilroy's gang problem manageable? What can be done in the immediate to help the situation?
Dion Bracco: Yes, it is manageable. We are doing much to combat the gang problem in Gilroy. Our Anti-Crime Team is always out looking for these criminals as shown by the two operations this year which rounded up gang members and locked them up. This has had a big impact as violent crime is at record lows this year. We have to credit the hard work and dedication of Chief Turner and our Police Department. For comparison, in 1993, Gilroy’s population was 34,000 and there were 454 violent crimes; in 2011, our population was over 50,000 and there were 204 violent crimes with 2012 coming in even lower. I have been very involved with efforts to curb gang violence, working with the chief of police to create the South County Youth Task Force to work with others regionally to address gang issues.
Don Gage: Yes, the gang problem is manageable because our Police Dept. remains in a reactive mode. We need to beef up a gang suppression team, get back involved with the regional task force, restore the use of the shared probation officer and the neighborhood resource unit.
Peter Arellano: Gilroy has struggled with gangs operating in and around our city for many years. Our gang problem waxes and wanes from year to year due to multiple factors. One prime reason crime rates decrease is our effective police force. Through intelligence and investigation, arrests are made. Arrests decrease gang activity temporarily. We need to provide resources to help prevent our youth from entering a gang lifestyle. Only through cutting the flow of our youth from the gangs will we be able to minimize gang violence in our city.
Who do you agree with? Is it better to be reactive or proactive when it comes to dealing with gangs in Gilroy? Tell us in the comments!