Anti-gang task force makes progress

Joint effort nets 17 arrests since its launch
By Karen Maeshiro, Staff Writer
Article Last Updated: 05/26/2008 08:38:28 PM PDT

LANCASTER – A joint law enforcement anti-gang task force has made 17 arrests, impounded nine vehicles and confiscated one firearm since its launch earlier this month.

The task force of California Highway Patrol officers and sheriff’s deputies made 330 traffic stops resulting in 12 arrests for driving under the influence and five felony arrests.

The stops also generated 83 citations and 112 field investigation cards on which deputies gathered information on suspected gang members, officials said.

“Gang members will soon learn that the Antelope Valley is a hostile environment for anyone who chooses to join a gang,” Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris said.

In announcing the program three weeks ago, CHP officials had said crime can be fought by focusing efforts on traffic enforcement because vehicles are major modes of transportation in the commission of violent crimes and drug trafficking.

Six CHP officers have partnered with deputies to augment existing anti-gang programs with patrols and heightened enforcement of traffic laws in problem areas.

The task force was launched May 2 and will continue into the summer in Lancaster and Palmdale and surrounding unincorporated areas, officials said.

The task force is funded by the California Gang Reduction, Intervention and Prevention Program, or CalGRIP, an anti-gang initiative announced in May 2007 by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger that allocated more than $48 million in state and federal funding for anti-gang programs.

One aspect of the initiative aims to put more law enforcement in areas with a high concentration of gangs by increasing CHP support for police departments and sheriff’s departments, officials said.

“It’s going really well. They are making a lot of car stops and identifying a lot of gangsters,” said Capt. Axel Anderson, commander of the Lancaster sheriff’s station.

“They are stopping gang members before they get to the valley. They come up here, go to parties and cause trouble.”

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