Overall crime down, gang crime on rise in S.D.

UNION-TRIBUNE

6:37 p.m. April 17, 2008

SAN DIEGO – While overall crime in San Diego continues to drop, gang crime rose 19 percent in the first three months of the year when compared to the same period last year, according to the latest crime statistics released by the mayor’s office Thursday.

Executive Assistant Police Chief David Ramirez attributed the increase to a more proactive effort by the department’s gang units, which have grown in size since last year. “They are taking a lot more cases than they used to,” Ramirez said. “If they think there’s any type of nexus to gangs, they want to take those cases.”

The goal is to use investigative work and intelligence to link gang members to several types of crimes, including homicides, thefts, prostitution and assaults. Five gang homicides were reported in the first quarter this year, compared to four last year.

A sergeant, four uniformed officers and a gang intervention officer were added to the gang suppression team at the beginning of the year, beefing up the unit to 29 officers. That’s in addition to 30 gang investigators.

“In the end, when all is said and done, we’re pretty confident we will have some reductions (in gang crime) by locking up these prolific offenders,” Ramirez said.

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