Gang activity in San Luis Obispo County is a growing concern among law enforcement agencies and County government officials. In 2016, there were 767 documented gang members in San Luis Obispo County and 55 documented criminal street gangs, which include White supremacist gangs, Hispanic gangs, black gangs, outlaw motorcycle gangs, international gangs, and others.
Just south of San Luis Obispo County’s border, gang-related murders skyrocketed in 2016. However, neither Santa Barbara County, nor Santa Maria, has a gang task force. To assist, the San Luis Obispo County Gang Task Force helped apprehend and arrest Santa Maria gang members that had viciously murdered and conspired to murder opposing gang members.
As part of prevention outreach activities in 2016, the San Luis Obispo County Gang Task Force along with the Anti-Gang Coordinating Commission developed a Gang Awareness Course for school staff throughout San Luis Obispo County. The course material addresses gang activity specific to a school’s environment and has since become a popular request among many local school districts.
In addition to this Awareness Course, the San Luis Obispo County Gang Task Force, along with the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Training Unit, developed a Peace Officer Standards and Training (P.O.S.T.) certified Basic Gang Training Course, specifically for local law enforcement officers. The purpose of this course is to further educate law enforcement on criminal street gang and enforcement.
Additionally, in 2016, the County Board of Supervisors granted the County Sheriff’s Office two new deputy positions to augment the existing Gang Task Force. These new positions will help provide the region with a Gang Task Force street team that will have daily contact with criminal street gang members, daily interaction with the public, and daily communication with local law enforcement agencies. The goal is to maintain a county-wide gang documentation process.
The County Sheriff’s Office established its Gang Task Force in 1989 to make a positive difference through outreach and education, while changing the tide of violence and victimization that is perpetrated by these street gangs. An active effort to disrupt and dismantle criminal street gangs and gang activity has been occurring since then.
The Sheriff’s Office hopes that this continued effort will reduce the amount of crime related to criminal street gangs, continuing to make San Luis Obispo County a safe and wonderful place to reside.