I arrived home from the Thanksgiving Day holiday to find my car and several other cars vandalized – a large gang sign scratched into the side of my car. With hundreds of gang members in Santa Barbara, is there anyone who seriously thinks we don’t need a strong gang injunction in our city? The current inadequate proposal only applies to 30 gang members, half of whom are already in jail. This is a farce. This is a fraction of the known gang members reportedly living in Santa Barbara. We urgently need a gang injunction that applies to all gang members and here are some of the things that I feel should be in it:
1. Judges should require that convicted gang members or the “parents” of gang members should make restitution to the victims. In addition, any infraction by a gang member should involve paying a fine that would go into a fund to provide restitution where necessary. The benefit of this is that parents will once again become responsible if they have to pay for the crimes of their miscreants.
2. There should be a curfew – say 10:00 pm. Minors should be doing something productive such as after school sports, a job, a scout troop, or homework, not out roaming the streets looking for trouble.
3. No more than two or three gang members should be permitted to gather at any one time.
4. As in the current inadequate proposal, gang members should be prohibited from public events where they have caused trouble in the past and from associating with other kids in places such as the Boys and Girls Club where they can bully other kids and recruit other members.
In addition to an effective gang injunction and more responsibility on the part of parents, there are policies that law enforcement and public officials can and should take.
Gang members, like other criminals here illegally, should not take up space in our jails, but instead should be turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
We should increase the size of the police force and the continuation school as needed to enforce the gang injunction. Los Prietos Boys Camp has also been very effective in turning around juvenile delinquents. It should be given all the resources it needs to continue its mission.
Schools have a tough job, but they could also help by not having short school days, by enforcing the existing truancy law against parents whose kids aren’t in school, and by prohibiting the wearing of gang attire.
Despite the objections by certain gang apologists and by the gangsters themselves, we can get a strong and effective gang ordinance. Yes, we can! If the elected local politicians won’t support it, perhaps we need to pass an initiative. If the police chief won’t support it, maybe we need a new police chief. Thank you for the turkey and mashed potatoes. Please pass the petitions.