|For Immediate Release
October 31st, 2003
Assistant Director Attorney
(714) 347-8518 (O)
(714) 504-0138 (C)
DISTRICT ATTORNEY URGES THAT MORE POLICE OFFICERS ARE NEEDED ON THE STREETS TO CURB GANG ACTIVITY
SANTA ANA – The Orange County District Attorney’s Office released the 2002 Gang Cases Report today. The report showed relatively consistent numbers with the last few years but with some indications that the resources are being strained.
“Every study shows that gang activity is the greatest threat to the quality of life for the citizens of Orange County. During these difficult economic times, law enforcement must pool its resources in vigorously preventing and prosecuting gang activity,” District Attorney Tony Rackauckas stated. “Although we are in tough fiscal times, we need to continue to fund our police departments. It’s simple. More police officers on the street mean more gang members will be taken off the streets and the public will be safer.”
This report covers the activities of the District Attorney’s Gang Unit, the Regional Gang Enforcement Team (RGET) and the Tri-Agency Resources, Gang Enforcement Teams (TARGET). The Gang Report includes the following facts:
- The Gang and Target unit conducted 59 jury trials of gang members, with a 92.5% conviction rate.
- 187 gang members were committed to state prison; and 13 others were sent to the California Youth Authority.
- At the end of 2002, there were 150 more gang members and 8 more gangs than at the end of 2001. New information about the year 2003, however, indicates that gang membership is again on the decline.
- There were 36 gang-related homicides in Orange County in 2002. This is an overall increase from the previous four years and an increase from 2001, but still half the number in the peak year of 1994. As compared to other years and assault numbers, this number seems to be a statistical anomaly. Thru October of 2003, CalGang reports 17 gang-related homicides.
- Criminal charges were filed against 1,058 gang and adult gang-related defendants in 2002, with most offense types decreasing; violent offenses declined only slightly.
- RGET made 25 arrests, including one homicide. RGET seized $500,000 in counterfeit currency and $1 million in assets. RGET team members provided 4,098 hours of investigation and 2,475 hours of law enforcement training.
- TARGET deputy district attorneys filed cases against 358 targeted gang members and 43 co-defendants during 2002; 84% of defendants were kept in custody and off the streets throughout the prosecution process. TARGET teams seized 120 firearms, bringing the 5-year total to 866. There were 1,221 targeted gang members at year-end, essentially the same as 2001, but there were fewer Teams and resources. There were 503 arrests of targeted gang members and 1,346 arrests of non-targeted gang members. There were 144 commitments of targeted gang members to state prison or the California Youth Authority in 2002, with 202 additional commitments to jails or local juvenile facilities. The average probation caseload of all teams was 275 targeted gang members and 209 “non-targeted” gang members; 87% of “targets” were on formal “gang terms” of probation. There were 1,390 probation searches and 240 probation violation filings against “targets.”
“We are sending a loud and clear message to those who are contemplating joining a gang – either stay away from criminal street gangs and grow up and prosper, or join a gang and grow old in prison,” stated Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas.
A copy of the 37-page report is available at www.ocgov.com/da.