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EAST PALO ALTO – California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr., community leaders and regional law enforcement officials today announced the completion of Project Safe Neighborhood, a nine-month multi-agency “crime crackdown and citizen mobilization” aimed at curbing a wave of violence plaguing the City of East Palo Alto.
“This multi-agency crime crackdown and citizen mobilization put a real dent in the wave of violent crime plaguing East Palo Alto because law enforcement agencies joined together with a large group of involved citizens,” Brown told a news conference with community leaders and officials from the East Palo Alto Police Department and other law enforcement agencies. “Nevertheless,” Brown added, “the fight against crime in East Palo Alto is far from over. Gangs in California are getting increasingly bold, spreading out from neighborhoods to terrorize whole cities and even regions. Combating this new breed of urban gangsters requires widespread citizen involvement and a coordinated attack by both uniformed and undercover officers, suppressing mid and low level drug dealers day after day.”
A wave of violence struck East Palo Alto in late 2006, resulting in six homicides and 67 shootings. In response, Brown sent undercover agents from the Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement to gather intelligence and lead an anti-violence task force. Bureau agents joined with law enforcement agencies including the federal Drug Enforcement Agency, San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office, San Jose Police Department and East Palo Alto Police Department to conduct undercover investigations into upper-level drug traffickers, leading to arrests and drugs seizures including:
• 77 grams of heroin and 28 grams of black tar heroin
• 156 grams of cocaine
• 558 grams of crack-cocaine
• Two pounds of crystal methamphetamine
Together with numerous law enforcement agencies, the East Palo Alto Police Department made over 250 arrests, 400 parole and probation searches, 500 gang contacts and seized 45 firearms. Since the project was initiated, crime and violence has dropped dramatically in the city and there has been only one homicide.
The East Palo Alto Police Department also mobilized community members to participate in a 1000 person unity march and a 300 person youth summit. Community Organizations and police also engaged in crisis intervention, conflict mediation and negotiated cease-fires between rival gangs.
Other participants in today’s press conference include: City of East Palo Alto Mayor David Woods, City of East Palo Alto Vice-Mayor Patricia Foster, San Mateo County Sheriff Greg Munks, San Mateo County District Attorney Jim Fox, United States Attorney’s Office, California Highway Patrol Deputy Commissioner Art Anderson, San Mateo County Police Chiefs and Sheriffs Association Chief Susan Manheimer, San Mateo County Chief Probation Officer Loren Buddress, For Youth By Youth (FYBY) Douglas Fort, One East Palo Alto Executive Director Faye McNair-Knox, EPA Unity March & Rally Director Marina Latu, Pastor Paul Baines, East Palo Alto Police Chaplains, City of East Palo Alto Police Chief Ronald Davis.
California Attorney General Brown has made the fight against crime a top priority. In June, Brown’s Gang Suppression Enforcement Team took down 32 key leaders and associates of the Loc Town Crips, a Stockton-based Cambodian street gang responsible for extensive drug and gun trafficking. Agents uncovered widespread violence and drug dealing, including drive-by shootings and sales of methamphetamine, ecstasy and marijuana in California and around the United States.
In August, The Department of Justice cracked down on the A-Town Gang, a major central valley gang that terrorized the town of Atwater with robberies and murders and ran narcotics to states including Montana and Washington. Special agents joined the Atwater Police Department to serve 40 search warrants, arrest 26 suspects, and intercept a bulk delivery of marijuana, dismantling the gang’s criminal apparatus.
The California Department of Justice, Division of Law Enforcement is one of the largest state investigative law enforcement agencies in the United States. The division employs 450 sworn Special Agents, 200 forensic scientists, 600 civilian employees, and has an annual budget of $182 million. It is comprised of eight operational bureaus which include the California Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement, the Bureau of Gambling Control, the Bureau of Firearms, the Bureau of Forensic Services, the Criminal Intelligence Bureau, the Mission Support Branch, and the Western States Information Network.
In August, Brown announced the appointment of George Anderson, Sacramento County Undersheriff, as the 13th Director of the Division of Law Enforcement for the California Department of Justice.