Fed up with more than a dozen shootings between rival gangs in East Palo Alto and Menlo Park, police from East Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Palo Alto are joining forces to quash the violence, East Palo Alto police Chief Ronald Davis announced Tuesday, Nov. 27.
The crackdown, dubbed Operation Smart, is in response to a six-month increase in gang-related shootings and murders between the "Taliban" gang in Menlo Park and the "DaVill" gang in East Palo Alto, police said.
Operation SMART (Strategic Multi-Agency Response Team) will add to efforts already underway in both cities.
The three police agencies have agreed to coordinate gang and narcotics-enforcement operations targeting the Taliban and DaVill.
Police will share criminal intelligence and ShotSpotter data to identify violence trends and patterns. The three agencies will target gang and violence hotspots through joint patrols, probation and parole searches and home visits.
Through call-ins, gang members will be brought to the police department for one-on-one discussions with law enforcement and social services agencies to help them stop criminal behavior and leave gang life.
Police will also work closely with county, state and local law enforcement and the San Mateo County Sheriff's Gang Intelligence Unit and San Mateo County gang and narcotics task forces.
The three police departments will also form a new Homicide & Aggravated Assault Response Team (HART) to respond to all shootings related to the gangs, including investigations and enforcement.
Street-outreach workers and community leaders will be used to defuse tension and retaliatory violence.
The agencies will also conduct "social network analysis" to identify links between violence victims and the gang offenders, and to design interventions to prevent retaliatory violence.
Two "Operation Ceasefire" call-ins of both gangs are planned for January involving all three police agencies, community leaders and service providers, police said.
The meetings will put the gangs on notice of a zero-tolerance policy of violent behavior and will also offer services such as job, medical and drug counseling. Community and faith-based organizations will provide services and support to gang members wanting to change their life choices.
Gang members who are on probation or parole will be referred to the David Lewis Community Reentry Program to address causes that contribute to a return to criminal activity.
Police also plan an aggressive social-media campaign to engage the community and spread a message of nonviolence, including a special episode of the "Make the Call" cable television show. The program highlights recent crimes and will focus on gang violence. The departments will also work with the Community Media Center in Palo Alto to develop public-communication segments.
On Tuesday evening, Menlo Park police Chief Lee Violett gave the Menlo Park City Council an update on the recent violence and a brief overview of Operation SMART. East Palo Alto police Chief Ron Davis and Palo Alto Police Chief Dennis Burns attended.
In East Palo Alto, Davis will give the community an overview of Operation SMART at his upcoming "Chat with the Chief" on Dec. 11 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at East Palo Alto City Hall, 2415 University Ave. The event is open to the public and residents are encouraged to attend.