By Ryan Lillis
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, local law enforcement officials, community leaders and faith-based groups said Tuesday they were shifting the way they deal with gangs and will focus on prevention and intervention tactics.
Speaking at the Boys and Girls Club on Lemon Hill Avenue, the mayor said a task force he put together earlier this year would embark on a three-year plan on tackling gangs. Many of the programs the task force will work on are already in place, but the mayor said the new plan would help to coordinate those efforts.
The gang task force was formed in the wake of community outcry after two people - including a young mother - were gunned down outside a south Sacramento barbershop last December.
Johnson said the shooting "as a community, woke us up."
A task force of city and county law enforcement officials, joined by community groups and faith organizations, spent the past several months coming up with a game plan to address gang and youth violence.
The plan will represent "a paradigm shift," the mayor said. Most plans that tackle gang violence have "a heavy emphasis on incarceration and enforcement, and we don't want that to be the focus."
Investing in school-based programs, developing strong connections between neighborhoods and law enforcement officers, job development programs and regional collaboration will be the focus of the strategy.
The plan will be aided by nearly $20 million in federal grants given to the Sacramento Police Department and Sacramento Sheriff's Department in September to hire new officers. Most of the new officers hired by those agencies will be dedicated to gang prevention and enforcement, officials said.