Naval Postgraduate School to advise Salinas on fighting gangs
Monday, February 2, 2009
Naval Postgraduate School faculty who normally study how to stamp out global and domestic terrorist networks will now research strategies to prevent gang violence in Salinas.
Under a partnership announced today, NPS academics will work with the City of Salinas to address the root causes of the city’s violence.
Congressman Sam Farr said NPS will leverage the intellectual capacity from its Center for Homeland Defense and Security, which specializes in domestic terrorism prevention and detection. “The Naval Postgraduate School is trying to figure out how to stop violence everywhere in the world,” Farr said at a press conference this morning. “Let’s figure out how to solve it in our own backyard.”
NPS Provost Leonard Ferrari said 10 to 15 faculty will be collaborating with the city to come up with long-term, violence prevention approaches. “Education is probably going to be a key but giving an education that makes sense as a preventive measure for violence,” Ferrari said.
Kelly McMillin, director of the city’s Community Safety Alliance, said NPS would bring new ways to look at the city’s gang problem. “They don’t have a silver bullet. They are not going to solve violence in Salinas,” McMillin said. “But they do bring structure and a different lens.”
Officials said it was too early what would results come out of the research. “It could be as broad as a new way of policing a municipality,” McMillin said.
Also this morning, Police Chief Dan Ortega revealed that two investigators from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms will be working with Salinas police to prosecute gun crimes at the federal level.
“When we find people with guns, if we can get them federally prosecuted and then get them longer sentences that’s what we’ll be looking for,” Ortega said. Ortega added that gang members sent to federal prison have a harder time maintaining their network of communication as in county jail or state prison.
The two announcements come in the wake of six gang-related homicides in Salinas.
The city’s response to gang violence is also likely going to be a major theme of Mayor Dennis Donohue’s State of the City speech on Friday.
The address takes place from 11am to noon at Maya Cinemas, 153 Main St., Salinas.