Santa Barbara City Police Chief Cam Sanchez confirmed that he is studying the feasibility of implementing a gang injunction within city limits, something he has vigorously opposed in the past. While Sanchez cautioned that no decision will be made for several months, he said changing circumstances — several high-profile gang-related homicides involving juvenile perpetrators — have softened his opposition. “I’ve been attending a lot of community meetings, and I’m hearing — even in Latino neighborhoods — that I’m not tough enough on gangs,” he said. “People are tired of being intimidated in their own neighborhoods; they’re tired of having their children jumped in.”
Even the most successful gang injunctions, Sanchez said, can’t eliminate gangs; some work better than others. He said his department is studying the experience Lompoc and Oxnard have had with their injunctions, as well as other data that might illuminate whether such an injunction would be appropriate for Santa Barbara. That work, now being conducted in concert with the City Attorney’s and District Attorney’s offices, will take months to complete. Typically, gang injunctions are labor-intensive operations, in which specific individuals with suspected or known gang affiliations are barred from congregating in or around specific locations, such as Bohnett Park on the Westside or the Pennywise Market on the Eastside. Sanchez noted that merely serving suspected gang members with injunction notices could exceed the available officer power of his department.