According to police statistics, there are upwards of 150 documented gang members, who are responsible for a small percentage of crime. In 2005, about 30 crimes were considered gang-related, and all of them were solved.
On Thursday, mayoral candidate Brent Ives unveiled his six-point plan to prevent "the gang issue" from ever taking foot in the city, calling it "something we need to take care of."
"We have been playing games saying there is no gang issue in the city," Ives said. "Whether there is a problem or not, I don't know but there is a gang issue."
He said most complaints come from specific areas like the West Valley Mall and downtown Tracy.
His plan calls for immediate responses to challenge gang activity and clean up graffiti; a zero tolerance for those have been arrested for gang-related crimes or are suspected of having gang connections; increase patrols around schools before and after school hours; partner with the San Joaquin County District Attorney's Office; increase the number of officers patrolling neighborhoods; and provide job training and supervised activities.
Tracy police Detective Marc Bergman, president of the Tracy Police Officers Association, said the plan is another reason why the union is supporting Ives for mayor.
Ives' opponent, Celeste Garamendi, said many Tracy residents feel there is a gang problem and that's what's important.
"I think there is a gang problem but not as serious as in Los Angeles or East L.A.," Garamendi said. "We don't want any type of gang activity in the city, but the city finds itself having to take collective actions it should have been ahead of the curve on."
Garamendi said the Tracy police not only need more gang officers, but more detectives to the city's street crimes unit and resource officers at the high schools.
Mike Martinez can be reached at (209) 832-3947 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.