The California Penal Code defines a gang as any organization, association or group of three or more people, whether formal or informal, which (1) maintains a continuity of purpose (2) seeks a group identity, & (3) has members who individually or collectively engage in or have engaged in a pattern of criminal activity.
Using this definition, gangs have existed as far back as documented history. Visalia gangs contain members of all ethnic & social economic groups. Street gangs attempt to control citizens & rivals through fear, intimidation, & violence. The City of Visalia uses a two prong approach to gangs: prevention/education & suppression.
Prevention & Education
The City of Visalia Police Department has created a community-based cooperative approach to education & prevention through the use of the Department's Police Activities League, local church groups, school programs & outreach groups. These groups work together & strive to give our youth an alternative to or a way out of the gang lifestyle. They provide a place where youth can be safe from fear & intimidation from gang members. These groups educate our youth to keep them from joining gangs & provide programs that support youth who want assistance in leaving a gang.
If you are interested in getting your child involved in one of these programs, contact the Visalia Police Activities League for a list of the programs available within the City.
Over the years, the type & level of gang crimes occuring in the City of Visalia has intensified. To respond to the increase, the Visalia Police Department has had several units designated to deal with the gang problem. In 2007, the Visalia Police Department created the Gang Suppression Unit. This Unit is housed under the Department's Special Enforcement Bureau & has been specifically structured to support gang suppression by pro-actively engaging in street suppression activities. Through the use of directed patrol & the gathering of gang-related information, officers assigned to the Gang Suppression Unit are able to focus their attention on those gangs indigenous to or routinely operating within the Police Department purview. The Unit is broken down into two-man teams, and each team concentrates its resources in a specific geographical & tactical area of responsibility. Each team has thorough knowledge of the gangs & their members, as well as developing gangs. Members of each team prioritize & target those groups or individuals presenting the greatest threat to the peace in the community & develop the most effective strategies for dealing with them.
Acting in concert with the Tulare County District Attorney's Office & the Tulare County Probation Department, team members apply a target approach to street gang enforcement. This ensures that attention is given to every detail of the development & proper preparation of cases against the most violent gang offenders which includes the drafting & service of search warrants, collection & preservation of evidence, & the coordination of probation searches. In addition, the Unit is also responsible for the collection of all data concerning gang-related crime in our jurisdiction. This serves as a measure for the future impact of long-term programs within our community & calculates any quantitative successes that occur.
To report an anonymous tip regarding gang activity, submit an online anonymous tip or call the gang tip hotline at 559-713-4737.
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