Crime and violence rates in East Palo Alto took another a dramatic drop, as police, city officials, nonprofit and faith-based groups implement programs to engage youth and target criminals in face-to-face meetings, according to a report released by Chief Ronald Davis.
Murders are down 75 percent, shootings are down 65 percent, and overall crime is down 10 percent from last year, Davis said in a press release on Thursday. The report also noted significant decreases in year-to-date rape, robbery, assault and motor vehicle thefts.
Burglaries rose only slightly, by 1 percent and larcenies rose 13 percent, according to the report.
The city did experience a slight increase in shootings and gun-related incidents in May, Davis noted.
"This increase, albeit relatively small, is of concern to the department based on the nature of these incidents and the recent spate of violence occurring throughout the Bay Area. We want to make sure that this is not a prelude to a violent summer," he said.
In response, East Palo Alto police will resume special enforcement operations funded by U.S. Department of Justice grants to target gangs, drugs and violence.
The East Palo Alto City Council has authorized $200,000 for community and faith-based organizations to start summer youth programs. The Police Activities League (PAL) will implement additional youth programs during the summer and will host a youth summit in August, using Department of Justice funding, he said.
Operation Ceasefire, the city's anti-violent-crime program that targets gangs, will conduct its third "call-in" in July. The program contacts known repeat offenders and at-risk youth for sit-down sessions to renounce gang life and offers social and mental health services and job counseling.
The police department has formed an anti-graffiti task force for the summer.
"Graffiti is much more than the defacement of public and private property; it is a language that is used by gangs to declare ownership of a neighborhood and, in some cases, call for violence.
"We must respond aggressively to this growing problem and make it clear that the only people who own a neighborhood are the families that live there. Our response to this challenge will be holistic and address not just to the taggers, but the root causes of their destructive behavior as well," Davis said.
"If we continue to work together and strategically focus our resources, as we have done throughout this year, I am confident that we will maintain the gains achieved thus far and end this year with the lowest crime and violence rate in over 12 years."