The Santa Barbara Police Dept. will serve an injunction to 30 individual alleged gang members in hopes of reducing gang-related crime throughout the city.
If the Santa Barbara court signs the document, the order will prohibit listed individuals from Santa Barbara’s Eastside and Westside gangs from entering proposed “safety zones” — designated areas subject to a high level of gang activity including the Santa Barbara City College campus and much of downtown Santa Barbara’s beach area. The injunction will also prohibit the individuals from using drugs or alcohol, possessing firearms and associating with other gang members.
According to Santa Barbara City Councilman Frank Hotchkiss, the measure could be very effective in reducing criminal activity.
“Anything we can do to reduce gangs and gang violence is a good thing,” Hotchkiss said. “This will be one strong measure in that direction.”
Hotchkiss said the injunction seeks to persuade gang members to formally relinquish their affiliation through a legal agreement made with the city attorney, thus “opting out” of gang involvement.
“That is the purpose of the whole thing — not to prosecute people but to get them out of gangs,” Hotchkiss said.
Although the injunction aims to limit gang activities, some organizations say it is an ineffective plan.
Keith Terry, executive director of YSTRIVE for Youth, Inc., said the most successful approaches to gang problems combine elements of direct law enforcement suppression and community intervention.
“There is too much gray area [in the injunction],” Terry said. “If you do not involve the community, then what you are doing is having suppression act independently.”
According to founder and Co-Director of Youth CineMedia Osiris Castañeda, the injunction also inaccurately portrays the 30 individuals.
“I do not feel that some of those people deserve to be there,” Castañeda said. “From the standpoint of the list itself, I think there are some flaws there. I am not sure where it went wrong.”
Youth Cinemedia — one of the community associations against the injunction — recently released videos of 20-year-olds Emmanuel Padron and Bryan Carreno claiming their names were unfairly included on the document.
Castañeda said the document infringes on civil rights and unjustly targets individuals who have turned their lives around.
“Just from a civil rights perspective I am against a gang injunction,” Castañeda said. “I just do not feel that that is a fair application of the law against citizens of the USA.”
Despite the groups’ objections, SBPD’s Public Information Officer Lt. Paul McCaffrey said the department based their list on information clearly linking them to past gang-related crimes.
“I am less concerned about them losing some rights than what they did to be subject to the terms of the injunction,” McCaffrey said. “Their behavior is what got them on the list.”
McCaffrey said the injunction is similar to a restraining order and the court will remove their names if they comply with certain requirements.
“We went after the most active, the worst of the worst,” McCaffrey said. “If he [Carreno or Padron] is doing well and that is sincere, we say congratulations. If it so happens that a legal determination says that he does not belong on the list, then that is great, that is what we want.”