Graffiti heats up city's gang concerns again
“What I describe a gang problem as is a group of people that are controlling either the drug trade or turf,” Downing said. “Neither one of those are happening.”
Downing also said there are groups of people who call themselves gangs, there is graffiti that he’s sure is gang related, but he said it’s not to the point where the city has a problem. Other than isolated incidents like the reported gang member from San Jose allegedly stabbing a man in the park on April 12, Downing said incidents of groups fighting one another doesn’t normally happen here.
“The public being educated in gang signs and gang graffiti and such is good,” Downing said. “Because are gangs coming? Sure. Look at the trend as they move through the state. I foresee us having a gang problem someday.”
Downing acknowledged how some of the graffiti being seen in the city has made reference to specific gangs, from a local group of people calling themselves the Susanville White Boys to the more state specific SR13. Downing said while these are obvious references, he said he’s not concerned about it being a current problem.
“We need to gear up, prepare ourselves and make sure we have the right information and training to deal with the situation in the future,” Downing said.
Downing also said because of the city’s location, the occasional outlaw motorcycle gang has been known to pass through town. He said for the most part, they just pass on through the town without causing any disturbances.
On the other side of the coin is District 2 Supervisor candidate Ron Wood, who says the gangs are a very current concern.
“I don’t care what officer Downing believes, we have a gang problem,” Wood said. “The theory (former Susanville Chief of Police) Jim Wages had is that we have no organized gangs here, otherwise we would have the gang problems bigger cities have to deal with. We’ve had gang rapes, we’ve had car jackings at the college. We may not have the population of a bigger city, but we certainly have the gangs.”
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