Donohue says gang violence will continue; more police and community involvement needed
Friday, February 6, 2009
Salinas doesn’t have enough police to stop gang violence and the city will have to further tap state and federal resources, in addition to getting residents engaged, to maintain security. This was Mayor Dennis Donohue’s message (albeit a familiar one) at his “State of the City” address this morning.
With six homicides already this year and a record 25 slayings last year, Donohue focused nearly his entire speech on the city’s peace plan.
“The problem is simple: we have too many gang members and associates in Salinas,” Donohue said inside a Maya Cinemas’ theater. “A subculture that directly participates in and enables or ignores gang activity has taken root in our community. Whether it is 10 percent or 20 percent that has ties to gang activity, 100 percent of the city is affected.”
Donohue restated that every available officer was patrolling the streets and highlighted recent suppression help from the California Highway Patrol and Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. “Despite the increased police presence, the violence is likely to continue at some level for the foreseeable future,” he said.
Donohue called on every family, student and business in Salinas to help undo gang influence but reiterated that a larger police force was necessary, alluding to a future tax measure or some other funding mechanism to augment public safety.
Donohue, who is in his second term as mayor, didn’t reveal any new anti-gang initiatives, other than Buckley Radio’s social marketing campaign Enough!, which will feature a town hall meeting Feb. 18 at Sherwood Hall, and asking former San Jose mayor Tom McEnery to assemble a team to attract Silicon Valley investors to the Salinas Valley.
Donohue acknowledged that many residents feel angry and powerless due to escalating violence. “The truth is we are not powerless. The violence comes in part from our own community and it will be stopped by our own community.”