Thursday, August 11, 2005
Salinas Homicides Down
The Salinas city homicide total has dropped by more than 50 percent this year compared to last year. In 2004, there were 12 homicides between Jan. 1 and Aug. 1. Five were reported during that same period in 2005. The creation of the Joint Monterey County Gang Task Force (GTF) in late March may be a factor.
“Gang violence goes up and down, so there is no solid predictor of the cause of the decrease,” says Salinas police Lt. Dino Bardoni, one of 13 members of the GTF. “While the task force is part of it, people are reporting more crimes and when people help with investigations, that helps the gang task force.”
Bardoni also credits Salinas’ violence suppression unit of about 16 officers. “The gang task force is an arm of that unit, except we are county, they are city.”
Although the GTF was formed almost five months ago, it continues to wait for $3.1 million in funding from the federal government. “When the money comes in we are going to add two civilian positions, one clerical and a crime analyst,” Bardoni says. There are also plans to acquire computers, vehicles and an upgraded radio system.
The GTF is composed of four Salinas police officers, four county deputy sheriffs, two county probation officers, a Salinas police sergeant, a county sheriff’s sergeant, and a Salinas police lieutenant. The task force aims to network with agencies countywide to share information in the mutual effort against gang violence.
“We want our presence known in every jurisdiction,” Bardoni says. “If there is violence in a jurisdiction, we get there, make calls, give support and it is recognized. We are getting to know more and more people in different jurisdictions. I am pleased with how we are growing. And we are working to improve what we have everyday.”
When its members aren’t busy solving crimes, the GTF is available to give presentations to members of the public who want training or education. For more information, or to report a gang activity, call the anonymous crime tip line at 758-7400. [KH]
New Rules for Pits
Pit bulls and other dogs may soon be restricted in California.
Later this month, the state legislature will vote on a bill that would, among other things, make spaying and neutering some breeds mandatory. If the bill becomes law, cities and counties will be able to restrict breeds deemed “malicious and dangerous,” by requiring owners to spay and neuter their dogs, and by prohibiting breeding.
In other states that have passed similar breed-specific legislation, pit bulls and other so-called “malicious and dangerous” dogs have eventually been banned, or at least heavily restricted.
The state legislature reconvenes on Aug 15.
Senate Bill 861 was first introduced by Sen. Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco) and advocated by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom following the mauling death of a 12-year-old boy on June 3.
Current state law does not permit breed-specific ordinances and regulations. If SB 861 is approved, it will amend California’s current “No Breed Discrimination” law.
Most recently, SB 861 cleared the Assembly Local Government Committee on June 28 by a 4-3 vote. It now moves to the floor of the assembly.
Despite the emotional arguments to ban certain breeds following recent dog-mauling deaths and injuries, many dog owners say the proposed law is a bad idea. According to the Chako Rescue Association for the American Pit Bull Terrier, if a restricted breed—such as the pit bull—lives in one’s house, the homeowner may have a difficult time buying homeowner’s insurance, or find one’s existing insurance policy cancelled.
Opponents of SB 861 also argue that breed-specific laws are not the best way to protect communities, and that California’s existing dangerous dog law, when properly enforced, requires all dog owners to be responsible regardless of the breed they own.
As Joan Gibson Reid, Legislative Coordinator of the Sacramento Council of Dog Clubs, says in a memorandum to her members, “Irresponsible owners who choose/use a breed for malicious purposes will merely segue to another breed.”
A rally against SB 861 will be held at the state capital, on the west side facing “L” Street, on Aug. 15. For more information, visit www.pitbull.us. [CB]