Twenty-eight people were killed in gang-related homicides last year in San Diego, an increase of 56 percent from 2006, reports the San Diego Union-Tribune. The number is down 35 percent this year so far. Extra personnel for the gang unit this year has helped. Some parents want to see more officers along with more programs for children in southern and southeastern San Diego – communities dotted with more sidewalk vigils than playgrounds. The memorials honor homicide victims, but they also remind residents that they live, work, and play among gang members. It’s difficult to say how much money the San Diego Police Department invests in gang prevention and intervention because the agency doesn’t track how much of its $400 million budget is spent on individual units.
The department has added one gang suppression team, which includes seven officers, bringing the total to four teams. Three officers were added to the gang unit’s graffiti strike force, bringing its total to seven officers. Extra support also has come from SWAT this summer, when gang violence usually flares up. Other communities are grappling with gang violence, but no other city in the county sees as many homicides as San Diego, which is home to more than one-third of the county’s 3 million residents.