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1 in 136 are gang members in Manteca
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Municipal budget cutbacks triggered by The Great Recession may have forced the gutting of much of Manteca’s gang unit but during the 18 months it was up and running at full force it provide police with an invaluable weapon - an expanded list of documented gang members.

“For about the first year that (documenting gang members) is what they concentrated on,” noted Manteca Police Chief Dave Bricker.

That required compiling evidence that individuals indeed met the threshold under California law to be a documented gang member. Officers were able to take the number of documented Manteca gang members from 300 to 500. That is essentially one out of every 136 Manteca residents.

Why documenting gang members are so important is reflected in what happens after a conviction is secured. Convicted documented gang members get mandatory sentencing enhancements for the crimes they commit.

The best example of what can happen to a documented gang member is an incident two years ago. Manteca Police were able to connect “Bud” Gonzalez to five drive-by shootings including one he conducted while paying for a ride in a taxi. No one was hit in any of the shootings.

Since Gonzalez was a documented gang member he received a 68-year sentence for the five incidents despite the fact it was his first offense. Had he not been a documented gang member where the court was required to add the extended sentences under laws that address crimes taken to further the interests of a gang, the most he would have received was 16 months to two years.

That means the information that the officers gleaned to document gang members not only provide solid information for officers on the street but gives prosecutors a powerful weapon to remove threats to public safety.

Bricker said the decision to significantly reduce pro-active units such as the gang unit was to make sure with budget cutbacks that the department’s core mission - responding to emergency calls for assistance and patrolling the streets - was kept at 100 percent.