Correction: An earlier version of this story said the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office had identified hundreds of gang members on the coast. The story should have said the multi-agency Coastside Neighborhood Response Team had made contact with hundreds of people while working to eliminate gang activity on the coast.
A multi-agency team has identified 120 gang members and another 75 associates during work to eradicate gang activity on the coast. The numbers come from a city of Half Moon Bay press release outlining statistics provided by the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office.
The findings come as a result of the work of the Community Neighborhood Response Team, a multi-agency group composed to identify and monitor suspected gang members on the coast. The team began its work in March as part of a renewed effort by the Sheriff’s Office to staunch gang activity following shootings last year. The response team’s work followed a separate Gang Task Force assault on the local criminal problem that ballooned in the public consciousness last summer in the wake of a pair of gang shootings.
The response team consisted of an extra law enforcement unit on the coast and Lt. Larry Schumaker told the Review in March that it would include deputies who were familiar with the gang problem on the coast as well as a sergeant and California Highway Patrolmen.
The Sheriff’s Office has previously acknowledged that gang action was on the rise on the coast. The problem came to a head in 2011, when there was a shooting involving members of the Norteño and Sureño gangs in the city’s Arleta Park neighborhood. Earlier this year, deputies were called to Main Street in response to a stabbing at a wedding reception that appeared to have gang overtones.
Authorities say they could use more resources to tackle the problem. Last fall, Sheriff Greg Munks said he was unable to sustain the Gang Task Force through the winter months. San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe told the Review in March that the decision to dismantle the Gang Task Force in the winter months was “100 percent budget driven.”
Officials have been reticent to quantify the extent of the problem in the past and did not offer an estimate of gang involvement on the coast during a widely attended community meeting about the gang problem in 2011.
The city's press release states the team identified 120 people who were validated as gang members and another 75 who were associates of gang members. Suspects are validated either by admitting involvement in a gang, possessing gang symbols, being implicated by a reliable source and having connection with known gang members.