Salinas has had a problem with gangs, and people know it. Residents of neighboring towns once feared that by crossing over the border, they’d be shot on sight. But three years ago, the city decided to go after the gangs, not only with increased policing but with a policy that offers help to find a job and a way out of crime.

Those programs seem to have worked, as the year-over-year change in homicide and shooting dropped by two thirds. That success, however, may become more challenging to maintain as budgets continue to be cut and the police department is downsized.

Once, the city provided funding to non-profits that would help connect gang members to jobs, but that money is gone. And the police who would work overtime to staff the gang intervention units are over worked and too overly tired to staff the extra shifts. Now, the message of carrot and stick, that proved successful in Boston, is being revised to a new model that will allow the city to continue to control its gang populations.

From the New York Times:

People in California generally know two things about this agricultural city nestled among lettuce fields east of Monterey’s beaches and hotels: John Steinbeck was born here, and it has a big problem with gangs.

Three years ago, the violence between warring Northern and Southern California gang members had become so bad that police and city officials decided to mount an all-out drive to tame it.
Read the full article here.