In many cities around the country, there has been a noticeable rise in the number of shootings that have been taking place. The city of Chicago has had a rise of gun violence in just the few short months of 2016. Now Santa Ana is reporting 55 shootings in the area in just 50 days. Obviously in doing the math we can determine that this is a shooting per day, and now police and residents alike are wondering what might be contributing to all the gun violence. One reason on almost everybody’s mind is increased gang activity.
Increased violence by gangs
After three more people were shot and killed and two were wounded, the Santa Ana police chief is beginning to notice a trend in gang-related crimes. Chief Carlos Rojas said that the month of January has been the busiest for his department and it doesn’t seem like they will be slowing down anytime soon, as the number of shootings continue to climb. Rojas is contributing the increase in gang activity to members being released from prison back into the community. These members have been released early due to Proposition 47, which was passed in 2014. This proposition allows those who have committed nonviolent violent felonies, such as drug or theft crimes, to be released from jail early.
History of gangs in the city
Gunshots used to be a common occurrence in Santa Ana, especially in the 90’s. However over the past decade the number of annual homicides has been lowered. Now that there are already 5 deaths and 55 total shootings in 2016, it has the community wondering about the impact of gangs in their city. It is hard to determine a reason for certain gangs targeting one person and even harder to come up with an easy solution to the problem. Many young adolescents think of entering a gang as a rite of passage that they have to complete by a certain age. It is also true that Santa Ana is very culturally diverse, but has a large number of low economic populations. These are the groups that are more likely to join gangs, adding to the growing problem of violence.
Working to solve the problem
Rojas believes that his department’s 13 member gang unit has the manpower it would take to go up against the nearly 4,500 gang members throughout the city. There are currently 305 officers working in Santa Ana, but there are currently 67 positions opened due to an understaffed crew. In hiring as many officers as possible, they can work on the issue together. FBI and local police have reported that from 2014 to 2015 violent crimes rose 29 percent. Similarly, January 2016 saw 41 overall shootings compared to the 24 in January of 2015. In order to help solve this problem the Santa Ana police department has been seizing guns and going through personal belongings of individuals on probation to look for any gang activity signs. Police Union President John Franks thinks that even a more specialized enforcement might be needed to help combat the problem.
Every little thing the Santa Ana Police can do now will help make the difference in the future.