On April 1st, Sacramento Council member Jay Schenirer requested that Police Chief Sam Somers Jr. attend the weekly city council meeting. Chief Somers spoke about different issues pertaining to the recent escalation of gang violence in the Oak Park and Mack Road area. Chief Somers talked about different programs that Sacramento is currently using and planning to use in the near future to not only stop gangs from killing each other, but also to to reach out to the youth before they get deeply involved with the gang lifestyle. One of the programs police are using to stem the violence is called “cops and clergy”, which was started by Chief Somers in order to break the barrier between law enforcement and the community.
Chief Somers told the council that the city is safe and that we are were doing good against crime.
“Things are going very well. We had one weekend when things went bad and it was publicized all over the place,” said Somers. “Sacramento is a great place, Sacramento is a safe place, last year crime went down ten percent.”
Chief Somers also acknowledges that all areas of crime have went down except one; gun violence. Guns are the primary weapons which Sacramento gangs use.
One speaker at the meeting told the council that the part of Sacramento where he lives, Oak Park, is not safe, and he has been complaining about it to the city council for awhile.
“It is said that Sacramento is a safe and great place. Yes, it is great and safe where (Councilmember Schenirer) lives. There were no murders (there), but unfortunately where I live there were six murders,” said the speaker. ” My part of Sacramento is not great. My part of Sacramento is not safe. But my councilmen’s part is great and safe. I think that is a disparity (and that) he is out of touch.”
Oak Park resident Juan Torres believes that the recent violence only amplifies what residents of both neighborhoods already knew.
“The problem is no one wants to be labeled a snitch, if someone sees violence happening they won’t say anything, it’s like an unwritten rule of the community, you don’t see or say anything,” said Torres. “All this violence we seen last week is just a small part of what has been happening in the background for awhile.”
Torres thinks there isn’t enough being done to stop the issue.
“Police and law officials can claim many things about their different programs, but I believe there isn’t a better testimony that their programs are not working then a community member,” said Torres. “I have lived here all my life and it has been the same for awhile now. A lot of shootings and violence goes unreported. That doesn’t mean it isn’t happening; the violence hasn’t changed, it shifts from beatings to robberies to killings. It isn’t fully controlled.”
Gang wars are part of a bigger problem that goes unsolved as studies show that children who grow up attending better school programs have a higher chance of succeeding. Better education options for young students leads to less children choosing to enter gangs. As a society, we must decide where we want to use our resources; investing in education to encourage positive life outcomes for children, or more prisons and law enforcement to catch the poor and misguided who fall into a life of crime.