The Santa Rosa Police Department (SRPD) has officially reinstated its Gang Crimes Team, to address the growing issue of gang-related crime in the community. In 2019, SRPD reassigned detectives from the original Gang Crimes Team to patrol positions due to significant department-wide staffing issues. Since disbanding the Gang Crimes Team, the City of Santa Rosa has experienced a significant increase in gang activity and gang-related violent crimes. In Santa Rosa in 2023, five of the 10 homicides had a gang connection, 255 illegally possessed firearms were seized by SRPD officers, and 21 juveniles were arrested for firearm-related offenses compared to just 5 arrests for similar offenses in 2022.
Santa Rosa Police Chief John Cregan identified the need for a dedicated team of trained gang investigators to address the criminal behavior and began meeting with residents and community stakeholders to discuss how to rebuild a Gang Crimes Team that meets the needs of the community and would address gang violence holistically.
In the first week of December 2023, a new Gang Crimes Team, consisting of four detectives and one sergeant, began investigating gang-related offenses in the community. The Gang Crimes Team has four key priorities: prevention, intervention, education and enforcement. Additionally, the Gang Crimes Team will also provide a crucial bridge for those in need of community resources.
“This is not a ‘gang task force’ with uniformed officers making indiscriminate enforcement stops,” states Chief Cregan. “The new Gang Crimes Team will focus on prevention to divert youth from joining gangs; intervention to help active gang members safely leave the gang lifestyle; education through gang awareness and prevention courses for students, parents, teachers, police officers and other community groups; and enforcement to work to quickly solve violent gang crimes before additional community members are victimized.”
Additionally, the Gang Crimes Team will work closely with the Violence Prevention Partnership (VPP), .RJ Diversion Opportunity for Transformation Program and other nonprofit organizations to help expedite services to those most vulnerable in the community. With the reinstatement of the Gang Crimes Team, the Santa Rosa Police Department is reaffirming its commitment to the safety and security of the community.
In continued transparency, on Tuesday, Jan. 23rd at 9 a.m., Chief Cregan and Gang Crimes Team Sergeant Travis Menke will present a report on Chief Cregan’s vision for the Gang Crimes Team and how SRPD plans to address gang-related crime in Santa Rosa to the City Council Public Safety Subcommittee.