SAN DIEGO, Calif. – Political pressures in San Diego have led to police backing off and rebranding their gang units to be more community friendly. Since those decisions, gang violence has skyrocketed.
But sources within the unit, who are not authorized to speak to the media but whom we personally know and have vetted, have told us that the drama goes even deeper.
According to those sources, who must remain anonymous for obvious reasons, pressure from the progressive leaders in the California city has led the San Diego police chief to bow down and change how the department operates when it comes to crime, including a complete overhaul to the Gang Suppression Unit, which leaders say were stopping too many people of color.
The sources say that the chief has made some pretty shocking statements recently. They say that he’s giving in to the new progressive leader’s demands in hopes that they will keep him in his current position.
“He came to roll call and flat-out said he couldn’t have white officers stopping people of color. He also gave orders not to patrol minority neighborhoods in general,” the sources told LET.
Records show that the violence has spiked in the city since the changes in the department’s approach to preventing crime.
The sources noted that no other news outlets are reporting the fact that a new 60-officer unit was formed to deal with the vast homeless population, pulling police off their normal proactive patrol.
The city is now suffering, logging twice as many homicides as the same time last year and 20 percent more gang-related crimes overall.
Gang crime skyrockets including murder in San Diego after a progressive politician accuses its Gang Suppression Unit for stopping, get this: “to many gang members” and their Chief reassigns the units primary duties https://t.co/nyrJIVDp7d
— Rob O’Donnell (@odonnell_r) September 7, 2019
Our sources say that instead of dissolving the unit, the chief just ‘rebranded it’, preventing officers from actually stopping crime and instead turning them into ‘glorified community relations officers’.
The numbers show it all. There’s been a rash of shootings, retaliation attacks and other crimes that’s now put the raw number of gang-related crimes this year far ahead of the number through July 2018.
Here are the police statistics, according to the San Diego Union Tribune.
There were 463 gang-related crimes committed through June. That’s up from 385 during the same period last year – an increase of 78 crimes which is reflected in nearly all categories, the Tribune reported.
Last year at this time there had been five gang homicides. So far this year, 10. In all of 2018, there were six.
On top of that, the data also shows there have consistently been more robberies, assaults with a deadly weapon and attempted murders.
The official statement is that nobody knows why there’s a sudden surge in gang crime, and police officials say there’s no gang war. But it’s beginning to become clear.
Police are told to stop patrolling certain neighborhoods where crime is rampant. Crime goes up. The correlation is undeniable.
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Let’s look at the overall violent crime rate in the city. It’s increased a bit over the past few years, and it’s an upward trend that was a factor in a decision made earlier this year by Chief David Nisleit and top police brass to overhaul the Gang Suppression Team.
That’s the aforementioned team which traditionally focused on combating gang crime in the region.
Look back at what they did in April.
Police leaders rebranded the group as the Special Operations Unit. They also told them to respond to any source of violent crime across the city, including but not limited to violent gang activity… a move snuck through with no publicity.
“There was an increase in violent crime occurring in the city and (Nisleit) wanted to use the Gang Suppression Team to zero in on that issue,” said Lt. Shawn Takeuchi, the department’s spokesman. “The team was tied to crimes with a gang nexus, but he wanted to use their skill set, so he decided to expand their role.”
So what did those duties consist of?
For one, the team of officers patrolled neighborhoods where gangs were active.
And while department leaders have credited the team with keeping gang crimes in check, not everyone was on board. The presence of the officers and their work was criticized by some neighborhood residents – shocker. Those residents complained of heavy-handed tactics and aggressive policing. Over the years some activists have called for disbanding the team.
The number of crimes committed by San Diego gang members has jumped this year and is on pace to exceed last year. https://t.co/ifAhkFUtqZ
— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) September 4, 2019
According to Takuechi, there is still a group of detectives focusing on gang crimes exclusively.
He also said the officers in the former gang team now have a broader responsibility to assist investigating violent crimes throughout the city. He added the leadership was hopeful the team would be able to manage both tasks of investigating violent crimes and gang crimes.
“We have a duty to respond to and investigate crimes and arrest offenders that we feel are responsible,” he said. “We’ve rebranded (the unit) because the chief saw an increase in violent crime and we cannot let that increase happen.”
Around the same time that all of this went down, the department also created the Gang Intervention Unit.
It was formed in March with an aim of working closely with community members and young people to prevent future gang violence.
The difference is they don’t conduct the intensive street patrols that was the hallmark of the suppression team.
The same month that the Special Operations Unit was inaugurated, a month-by-month breakdown of gang incidents provided by police shows the rise in gang crimes began.
The San Diego Union Tribune noted that in the first three months of the year, police logged one fewer gang crime than the same three month period in 2018… but by April there were 23 more than by the same month a year ago. Add 29 more in May, 57 more in June and 78 more in July. We’re talking total gang-related crimes by the same month in 2018.