Palo Alto Weekly

News - January 15, 2010

East Palo Alto launches 'Most Wanted' television series

Cable program, forums and block meetings build community cooperation to fight crime

by Sue Dremann

Mug shots of the accused stare out from black-and-white images on the television screen. "Wanted," the postings read, listing the alleged crimes of East Palo Alto's most wanted criminals: murder, assault, conspiracy, drug sales and sex offenses.

Retired Judge LaDoris Cordell, a former Palo Alto City Council member, addresses viewers on "Make the Call," the East Palo Alto Police Department's home-grown version of "America's Most Wanted," the popular crime-solving television show.

"Over the last 15 years, approximately 100 homicides have occurred in East Palo Alto and only half of those murders have been solved. This means that there are 50 people out there who have gotten away with murder. That's not right and you all know that's not right. ... So make the call," Cordell said.

The one-hour cable television series is one aspect of the police department's overall community-alliance building to fight crime: holding neighborhood block meetings and "Chat with the Chief" community forums; sending e-mail blasts; arranging youth summits and cultural-sensitivity training for officers.

The show spotlights East Palo Alto's cold-case homicides, mixing police and family interviews with photographs of the city's most-wanted criminals, plus holding panel discussions with community leaders on topics such as the "snitching" mentality and gaining youth trust.

Co-produced by the Midpeninsula Community Media Center in Palo Alto, the program has aired three shows since July 2008, with a new episode to be dubbed in Spanish forthcoming, Police Chief Ronald Davis said on Wednesday.

Eleven-year-old Jocelyn Sandoval faced the cameras in November, discussing the shooting death of her father, William. Her father was killed in March 2009, after a gunman fired into a crowd at an outside party, following an altercation with some of the participants.

Jocelyn spoke about not planning a birthday party, because her dad won't be there.

John Leonard, 20, was shot and killed in July 2008, after the Milpitas resident was seen possibly speaking with two young men. Leonard's 20-month-old son, John Jr., played in the Media Center's studio as photos of Leonard flashed on the screen.

"He was so excited to be a dad," Leonard's mother said, weeping.

Putting a human face on the victims and their families is part of the department's strategy to fight crime, according to Capt. Carl Estelle, the department's spokesman.

"When the media is involved they put out statistics: how many shots were fired, the victim's age. You just become a number. People don't know anything about the victim," he said.

So far, the department hasn't cracked the profiled cases, but people have come forward with leads, Estelle said.

"Make the Call" and other community-based approaches are beginning to have an effect in East Palo Alto, a community long wary of police but fed up with violent crime.

Firearm assaults are down 29 percent from 2008, helped by the ShotSpotter system to track gunfire and a greater community willingness to report crime, Estelle said.

The city's eight homicides in 2009 are a bump up from five in 2008, but are a far cry from the 42 in 1992 and the 15 killings inherited by Davis four years ago when he became chief.

The city has hit a "statistical norm," Davis said.

"I'm not satisfied. It serves as a warning. We want to stop these incidents. The difference between a homicide and assault with a deadly weapon is two inches," he said.

When violence spiked in July, a youth summit was held in October. "Operation 4th Quarter," a crackdown on gang members, launched a month early in August.

Police identified individual gang members and knocked on their doors, warning that they were being watched. Officers, community and faith leaders offered ways out of the gang life, including mentoring, education and job assistance. But those who persist in a criminal lifestyle face in-depth investigations by city, county, state and federal agencies that could result in long prison sentences, Davis said.

The program is a spin-off of the investigation and arrest of 42 criminals in "Operation Ceasefire," which broke up the city's notorious Taliban gang in March 2009.

The effort has again paid off, Davis and Estelle said.

The fourth quarter of the year is historically the most crime-filled in the city. There were 23 shootings in December 2008 nine people were shot in a five-day period, according to Davis.

By December's end in 2009, firearm assaults were down 82 percent just four shootings and there were no homicides, according to Estelle.

David Woods, East Palo Alto's mayor, is pleased with the results.

"Although we have a way to go, the relationship between the police department and the community is better than it has ever been before. A lot of ... the reduction in crime is due to the leadership of Chief Ron Davis and the community's willingness to cooperate and take ownership," Woods said.

"The culture has changed in that the things that used to be acceptable as crimes are not acceptable anymore. People heard gunshots and had no reaction that was normal."

The economy has caused economically based crimes such as burglaries, robberies and larcenies to spike in 2009, bumping up the overall crime rate to 11 percent, according to Estelle.

But Davis is ready to start a program of "advanced community policing" that gets at the root causes of crime, not just chase the bad guys, he said. Programs that address poverty, school drop-out rates, unemployment, substance abuse and other social issues are being developed in collaboration with the city's nonprofit groups, he said.

In the three years since the Parolee Reentry program began, offering counseling, and help with education and job opportunities, only 15 percent of ex-cons have returned to crime, he said.

"Over three years, the homicide rate has dropped 29 percent and overall crime is down 16 percent. No entity could ever take credit for that reduction. It comes from the community," he said.

Staff Writer Sue Dremann can be e-mailed at sdremann@paweekly.com.

Comments

Posted by concerned, a resident of Menlo Park
on Jan 18, 2010 at 10:07 am

im out done by whos standards is one judged a gang member??i think this is a really double edged sword


Posted by qq, a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 18, 2010 at 11:29 am

Youtube link, it is 2010 after all.

Web Link

qq


Posted by llickorish, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jan 18, 2010 at 12:48 pm

i think we need some new homicide detectives, lets spend some money on that, offer rewards, something


Posted by Mr Fischer, a resident of Menlo Park
on Jan 18, 2010 at 1:20 pm

I must say there has been some minoot changes. The core of the problem is not only in EAST PALO PALO,....its in the BAY AREA. I speak at EPA because I live here,as well as MENLO PARK,Ca.,. I am a witness to the mentalities of our youth. The ones whom no one,(NON-PROFIT), group seems to explore or care to deal with. I get calls all the time from young men who wants to work. They choose to work with someone who is sympathetic to thier level of misfortune at this stage of thier life. That pain is based on dropping out of school and no G.E.D. or a parent that has no mothering or fathering skills to supportingly lead them or push them in the right direction, and their beliefs that the police cannot be thier mentor. Sorry Chief Davis your crew iis not helping either, Although a P.A.L. program (police activity league) could help. Its not a political issue. So steer away from such table topics such as,..."Talking with Hennrietta Burroughs",...its just talk,just talk,just talk. When I was in high school I worked at "TACO BELL",..and so did all my friends and some worked at other places such as "Mc Donalds",.."ROUND TABLE",or "Ms Fields Cookies",...etc.,. Now at these same restaurants a youth cannot get a job because all the management is immigrant and they hire only immigrants,.also the language spoken is 75% spanish. This is another obsticle for our trouble teens. We definatley cannot blame anyone in law enforcement about that. Small business can play a major role in society of rejuvenating our youth work force. It would provide and offer all of us better customer service in which we deserve for our money. The immigrants have taken fast out of fast food along with clean and sanitary conditions. Most people I know eat at home anyway. The old traditions of our old pioneers totally missed this young generation. Besides its healthier to make your own meals anyway,...monitoring fats ,sodium, and cholestrol levels. Don't be afaid to pass the old fashion family value along to our youth. It is not yours to keep. You must give it back to the proceeding generation.


Posted by CR0203, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jan 18, 2010 at 2:03 pm

FYI - East Palo Alto did NOT disrupt the "notorious gang Taliban".. they THINK they did.. what they did was gather up a bunch of people and LABEL them the Taliban.. and assume they got them all includimg the "leader".. little do they know the Taliban is still running the streets of EPA and Menlo Park.. They claim the Taliban was responsible for the homicides in EPA.. then who the hell has been committing the homicides that have taken place since March 2009?? The REAL Taliban is still running the streets... take a deeper look


Posted by uncle tom, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 19, 2010 at 3:45 pm

EPA has always been a crime filled slum, way back to it's Whiskey Gulch days. As a kid, I had seen people shot on numerous occasions. Making a TV show about it? I can see criminals sitting around their TVs at night watching hoping to see "yo, thats me!!!"

A Taliban gang? Cool name, but homeland security should have crushed that on principle. There have been gangs selling crack and whatever in EPA forever, dependable as the US mail. I dont know what the police do all day, they should be walking the streets, righting tickets, and making arrests.


Posted by Mr Fischer, a resident of Menlo Park
on Jan 19, 2010 at 4:01 pm

Most people who spends the money actually comes from,......"Another Palo Alto Neighborhood",..and likely throughout the "Greater Bay Area". Every town has addicts and alcoholics. Just different levels of finance. But the rich fuels everything especially addictions to whatever is most extreme like drugs. Crack& Ice, is not the fad today,....so that eliminates the citizens of "EAST PALO ALTO". Caucasians has always used meth & crank. So "UNCLE TOM" your way out there,..... or pre-judgemental.


Posted by uncle tom, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 19, 2010 at 4:05 pm

but I have better grammar.


Posted by joe, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 19, 2010 at 10:37 pm

I have been critical of EPA in the past for not meeting their responsibilities. In this instance, I applaud them for embracing this approach, which apparently has had some demonstrated successes.


Posted by Elmo, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jan 20, 2010 at 12:47 am

Does anyone know the channel?? Tried searching it nothing appeared


Posted by Mr. Fischer, a resident of Menlo Park
on Jan 20, 2010 at 12:50 am

Sorry Uncle Tom!!!!!!!! You have better "Gram Crackers". get it hee! hee! hee!.


Posted by Mr. Fischer, a resident of Menlo Park
on Jan 20, 2010 at 12:56 am

By the way "Elmo ,....Watch the local public media channel for progamming either channel #26,#27,#28,..or #29. Or just call the "MEDIA CENTER" on Sn Antonio rd. in Palo Alto. Good Luck!!


Posted by resident, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jan 21, 2010 at 6:02 pm

No problem can be solved unless everyone get's involved. a hands on approach is needed. EPA is surrounded by the so called smartest people in the world Silicon Valley, Stanford, Santa Clara university the Palo VA Health Care System hundreds of church groups ect.... Surrounded by all this brain power how in the universe is EPA still a problem. instead of just saying THEY need to get it together try showing someone how to get it together. what is the soulition? This is just an opinion.


Posted by Gifted Outlaw, a resident of another community
on Jan 21, 2010 at 6:12 pm

I grew up in EPA...My grammer is " my grammer'.My standards.Being real is what keeps you alive.Anyway....it was all-good until they started busssing us out the community to white schools.We would get off the bus to some "good grammer" coward calling us out our name.It came down to my dad telling me he was'nt paying no more doctor,dentist bills.I went to school to get high,make money holler at a Princess from my tribe and knock teeth out of the first fool i thought would pull some shit like that in front of them racist police.We shoot dice in the bath room...when you come in-it was empty your pockets bitch.Sound Familiar....We eventually ventured on to become PLR's' True Riders.We took it to the streets,city to city...The bottom line...I was distracted from my education-when i elected to face racsism.Alot of us did'nt make it.I see young people today...2 or 3 people together, without a jab is called a gang...To these racist police thats a meal ticket.Aint nothing good about the police when you live the The Ville or G-town.Nothing good.Death,Life-sentences,and more racsism.Alot of minority police don't have another way to survive or feed there family.Its racist cop in the ghetto or Afghanastian.Sound familiar.Thats what a american education would offer or allow me.My education is real life.I Thank God i will never be like this or you.Thank you Mr Fisher for chasing that white coon out the bushes.Ima shine to death and teach my kids the truth.I pick what my kids learn an be exposed to.


Posted by former resident, a resident of Southgate
on Aug 26, 2011 at 11:55 am

East Palo Alto is so disappointing. i dont even like to claim it and i was born in palo alto (stanford), and raised on both sides of the track, epa (mostly) and east menlo park. Its so sad to see so many kids, literally, killing each other. i dont even let my child play at the park where i use to play! just terrible...my fellow east palo altans need to grow up and live for their families if nothing else. killing each other over a turf? that neither of you put blood, sweat or tears into building? is absolutely ridiculous. a bunch of meth/crack smoking, coke sniffing, immature rats...that's what A LOT of them are. regardless, there's actually quite a few talented individuals that can make good music, but since some of them are from the mid/menlo aka the taliban, and others are from the vill and the G, they'd rather kill each other off over the the dirty streets they walk on as opposed to coming together and making music and money. they could have an epa/menlo compilation out in stores or on itunes by now if they were smart..isnt that what they want anyway? fame and money? idiots i tell you!..and what's up with the police NEVER being able to solve any of the homicides, yet EVERYONE in the neighborhood ALWAYS knows who the killer is and why they killed that person. they say it's because the community wont speak up but i mean come on, there may as well be a freakin billboard on the corner of university and bayroad with the killers face, address, his metro number, bday and ssn because the people always know. hate to say it but epa just makes me sick to my stomach..nothing good comes from my city...damn shame. if anyone has anything positive and uplifting to say about epa please post it. i'd love to hear something inspiring to curve my perspective. #thatisall


Posted by former resident, a resident of Southgate
on Aug 26, 2011 at 11:55 am

East Palo Alto is so disappointing. i dont even like to claim it and i was born in palo alto (stanford), and raised on both sides of the track, epa (mostly) and east menlo park. Its so sad to see so many kids, literally, killing each other. i dont even let my child play at the park where i use to play! just terrible...my fellow east palo altans need to grow up and live for their families if nothing else. killing each other over a turf? that neither of you put blood, sweat or tears into building? is absolutely ridiculous. a bunch of meth/crack smoking, coke sniffing, immature rats...that's what A LOT of them are. regardless, there's actually quite a few talented individuals that can make good music, but since some of them are from the mid/menlo aka the taliban, and others are from the vill and the G, they'd rather kill each other off over the the dirty streets they walk on as opposed to coming together and making music and money. they could have an epa/menlo compilation out in stores or on itunes by now if they were smart..isnt that what they want anyway? fame and money? idiots i tell you!..and what's up with the police NEVER being able to solve any of the homicides, yet EVERYONE in the neighborhood ALWAYS knows who the killer is and why they killed that person. they say it's because the community wont speak up but i mean come on, there may as well be a freakin billboard on the corner of university and bayroad with the killers face, address, his metro number, bday and ssn because the people always know. hate to say it but epa just makes me sick to my stomach..nothing good comes from my city...damn shame. if anyone has anything positive and uplifting to say about epa please post it. i'd love to hear something inspiring to curve my perspective. #thatisall


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