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Gangs target of new Lathrop police unit
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LATHROP – Gangs in Lathrop had better run and hide.

When voters approved the one-cent sales-tax increase in November of 2012 for public safety and community resources, boosting the ranks at Lathrop Police Services was one of the objectives.

On Monday the Lathrop City Council formally welcomed the two Community Impact Team officers – Deputies Jeff Watson and Sean Lannon – that will handle street crimes in Lathrop for the foreseeable future. 

Both San Joaquin County Sherriff’s Deputies were already assigned to Lathrop Police Services. They will now focus most of their effort in eradicating gangs from the community and letting them know that they’re not welcome.

“I think that the people feel that the gangs in the community are becoming comfortable and they’re tired of that,” Lannon said when making his remarks to the council. “They don’t want that to be tolerated in their town anymore.”

Watson has been extremely active in the community since being assigned to Lathrop. He was instrumental in getting a Lathrop High student that broke up a fight recognized for her efforts – calling her a hero for stepping in and doing what none of her peers, who had stopped to film and take pictures of the brutal beating, would do.

The council didn’t waste any time in doling out advice – start with the graffiti. 

Councilman Steve Dresser said that when driving around town he can’t help but notice an uptick in the number of places that are being hit by taggers. The most glaring example remains the Mossdale train bridge – which tens of thousands of cars pass by daily – but Dresser also took issue with businesses and signs that advertise new homes in the community. 

It reflects negatively, he said, to those who might think to one-day call Lathrop home and creates a blighted environment for residents who want nothing more than a clean city to call their own. 

Vice-Mayor Omar Ornelas praised the new addition – the team won’t be a reshuffling of existing resources but rather two new positions – and said that it sends a solid message to residents that help is on the way and to criminals that they better be on the lookout. 

“I think that it shows people that are doing things that are inappropriate or illegal that we’re not going to stand for it,” he said. 

Lathrop Police Chief Danelle Hohe made the introductions.