Police and city officials described the steps they are taking to curb a recent spate of shootings in Pasadena, and reached out to members of the public for their views and ideas at a “community meeting of emergency “organized Thursday evening at Robinson Park.
Police are investigating six shootings that have left four injured in the past week, Pasadena Police Department deputy chief Cheryl Moody said. The shootings were mainly concentrated in the Robinson Park neighborhood and are believed to have resulted from a gang feud.
No arrests were made.
“These are not random shootings, but they target those you believe [by the attackers] be involved or associated with local gangs, ”Moody said.
Detectives had no evidence to corroborate rumors the shooting was racially motivated, she said.
One of the shootings took place in the park around 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, while the children’s soccer practice was taking place. A man was seriously injured in the attack.
Moody has promised that at least two police officers will be specifically stationed in the park during practices and games in the immediate future, along with additional police officers in the surrounding area, as well as any location where gunshots have been reported.
“We in the police department are deploying all available resources to the areas where the shootings took place,” she said.
Police will also continue to work closely with community agencies and gang responders, as well as removing illegal guns from the streets before they are involved in crimes, Moody said.
Another short-term effort being considered is to make changes to Morton Avenue, along the west side of Robinson Park, to address residents’ concerns about persistent illegal activity, City Manager Steve Mermell said. Measures such as changing streets in one direction and redesigning parking facilities were under consideration.
City officials were also considering installing surveillance cameras at Robinson Park, noting that the cameras have helped alleviate problems at the Villa Parke community center, he said.
City Council recently approved a contract to introduce ShotSpotter gunshot detection systems in Pasadena, which have the ability to automatically detect gunfire and relay the position to police with an accuracy of around 82 feet, Mermell said. It was hoped that the system would help police catch more perpetrators and help victims get medical treatment faster.
City Council member John Kennedy, whose district includes Robinson Park, said he recognizes there may not be easy answers. A solution will require a partnership between the community, the city and the police.
“The solution to the complex social problems with gangs is not more cops. Although law enforcement is essential, we cannot stop our way to peace on the streets,” he said. .
“We need a broad and perhaps painful conversation about community violence. How can we keep our precious young men from turning to the streets and guns? ” He asked.
Families, churches and interventionists all need to play a vital role in stemming the violence, Kennedy said.
He thanked those who attended Thursday’s meeting. By your presence this evening it lets us all know how important this conversation is, ”he said.
Pasadena Mayor Victor Gordo agreed that a comprehensive and multi-faceted approach is needed for a long-term solution to gang involvement and violence. But more immediate action is also needed to stop the bloodshed.
“I am concerned about what is happening in our neighborhoods. I’m worried about what’s going on in our parks, and I have to tell you that as we look for long term solutions – and we need long term solutions to keep kids away from gangs and problems that end with violence in our parks and on our streets – but we also have a responsibility to do something in the meantime. “
“I’m here to listen. I’m here to brainstorm with all of you on short and long term solutions, ”Gordo said.
Several community members called for an increased police presence in the affected areas. Some mothers said they were reluctant to let their children continue to exercise in Robinson Park.
A resident said he maintained that the police were targeting those responsible for the violence, but was concerned that increased law enforcement could result in many costly traffic tickets for offenses minor offenses committed by neighborhood residents.
Moody said dozens of firearms were seized by police officers this year during traffic stops, potentially triggering shootings before they took place.
“We don’t want to abuse our power to stop vehicles, but it really improves what we’re trying to do when we stop traffic and take out those guns,” she said.
Police chief John Perez said the recent shootings made additional enforcement “necessary to prevent further violence.”
“We will provide additional resources to affected areas both to prevent and deter others from recklessly shooting where innocent people might be affected,” he said. “Our hope is to catch those who are considering participating in the violence before they are able to complete the act.”
Ricky Pickens, a community violence officer / advocate hired by the City of Pasadena City Manager’s Office, who has spent nearly three decades working in gang response, told the audience, ” you are all the answer ”.
As authorities strive to tackle the problem, local families and community members must do the same, he said.
He cautioned parents to be aware of their children’s activities and whereabouts, adding that the mere fact of being mistaken for a gang member, despite not being involved in a gang, could cause a person to be targeted.
“When there is a war, there is a difference between a gang member and a gangbanger. Right now the gang bang is going on, ”Pickens said.
“So the best thing we can do in this community, and I’m just going to call it that, you can argue with me or fight with me later… You say to your babies, ‘Don’t wear clothes. . it looks like that, ”he said.
“Don’t look like him, don’t walk like him, don’t be in an area that looks like him. Keep your babies close to you. At 12 p.m. or 1 a.m., your 16-year-old should be in the house and not be outside in front of the house.
Investigations into the recent shootings have been hampered by the lack of cooperation from victims and witnesses, police said.
Moody urged those with information about the violence to report it, adding that they can do so anonymously or via LA Regional Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477 if they do not feel comfortable speaking directly with the police.
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