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East Palo Alto police aim to quell the violence

Because of a rash of recent shootings, East Palo Alto Police Chief Ron Davis has called in help from 14 agencies to quiet the streets and investigate the causes of the shootings.

The city called in the same help when there were 60 shootings and six homicides between November 2006 and January 2007.

"We've had five shootings in the last five days," Davis said Tuesday night at one of his periodic "Chat with the Chief" meetings with residents. None of the shootings were fatal.

"We want to get on top of it before it gets like it was last time," Davis said.

The help will come from state parole and probation officers, federal agents from the ATF and FBI, San Mateo County Sheriff deputies, California Highway Patrol officers, and others.

The additional officers will provide what Davis called "targeted" investigations. "We think we know what's happening and why," he added.

Most of the recent violence has been what Davis called "black on black." Some have been domestic disputes, one was a fight over a cell phone, while others have been gang-related. It's the threat of gang violence and resulting retaliation that Davis wants to curtail or else "the body count will go up."

The city recently installed a "shot-spotter" system that pinpoints gunshots in several areas of the city, resulting in officers arriving at the scene almost before neighbors call 911. In one recent incident, that led to a car chase over the Dumbarton Bridge and the eventual arrest, in Union City, of three gang members and the recovery of three guns.

— Don Kazak

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