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CAHILL OFFERS PROPOSAL TO ELIMINATE GANGS IN THE CITY OF KINGSTON
Over the last decade, Kingston has been under assault by various gangs engaged in drug trafficking, violent assaults, and even murder. Many residents live in fear as a result.
Since 2005, several ideas and concepts have been proposed by Richard Cahill to fight crime and gangs, including a county wide drug and gang violence task force and a Nuisance Abatement Law. The task force was eventually implemented in 2007 by Sheriff VanVlarcum and the Kingston Common Council eventually adopted a similar Nuisance Abatement proposal offered by Don Williams, who is now County Court Judge. Both have been effective.
“In the last 4 years, D.A. Holley Carnright has aggressively prosecuted gang members in some of the most high profile cases and trials seen in over a decade. The result is that gang members and the gangs themselves have taken a real hit. Now, the time has come to finish the job and rid the City of Kingston of these gangs which have caused such havoc”, Cahill said.
“I am proposing that the City of Kingston implement a Gang Injunction Order program,” Cahill said, “This is the final piece of the puzzle to finally break the stranglehold gangs have on Kingston, especially Mid-Town.”
A gang injunction is a court-issued restraining order prohibiting gang members from participating in certain activities. It is based on the legal theory that gang activity constitutes a public nuisance that prevents non-gang members from enjoying peace in their communities.
Since 1999, to prevent rulings against injunctions in the name of constitutionality, city attorneys have carefully worded their filings so that they individually name every gang member, establish a designated area where the injunction applies, and enumerate the exact activities that gang members are prohibited from doing. These generally include association with one another, wearing certain clothes, making certain hand gestures, acting as lookouts, fighting, drinking, and using drugs. Some prohibited activities are already illegal, but the injunction means that violators can be held in contempt of court, which would demand additional sanctions.
“I believe the Kingston Police Department, Ulster County Sheriff’s Office, and all of our local law enforcement have the necessary information and street intelligence needed to begin seeking these injunction orders,” Cahill said, “This is the next step in taking back our streets and making Kingston safe for its citizens.”
Cahill also noted that this program is necessary to show Kingston’s children that gang life is not choice they should make. “Many local children talk about the gangs and too many think joining a gang is a way to be cool or to get ahead,” Cahill said, “This program is designed to make life practically unbearable for gang members. Hopefully, our youth will see this and realize that gang life is not for them. I have seen too many young people sent off to prison and their lives ruined because they joined a gang.”
Cahill believes a gang injunction order program will be very effective in Kingston as it has been in many areas.
As noted by the Los Angeles Police Department, “A gang injunction is a restraining order against a group. It is a civil suit that seeks a court order declaring the gang’s public behavior a nuisance and asking for special rules directed toward it’s activity. Injunctions can address the neighborhood’s gang problem before it reaches the level of felony crime activity. Gang injunctions have a clearly demonstrable positive affect on the neighborhood area covered. Some have had a remarkable effect. In smaller areas, gang nuisance activity can be permanently removed. In larger areas, with gangs entrenched for years, the gang’s hold on the area can be reduced and maintained with a small team of law enforcement officers. Anecdotal evidence is fully supportive; residents continue to ask for the period of peace a gang injunction can provide.”
Though some challenge the effectiveness of such a program, a study performed in March 2011, entitled the "Evaluation of the Effectiveness of Gang Injunctions in California", was published in the Journal of Criminal Justice Research (JCJR). The study was to determine whether gang injunctions reduce crime, when compared to baseline and matched control areas. The study evaluated 25 gang injunctions from four California counties and compared them to communities with similar gang problems but without gang injunctions. It was determined that calls for service were significantly reduced compared to baseline and compared to matched controls. “It was found that Part 1 (violent crime) calls decreased 11.6% compared to baseline, while controls averaged an increase of 0.8%, a net benefit of 12.4%. Part 2 (less serious) calls decreased 15.9% compared to baseline, while controls averaged a mild increase of 1.6%, a net benefit of 17.5%. Total calls for service decreased 14.1% compared to baseline, while controls averaged an increase of 2.3%, a net benefit of 16.4%. This study confirmed that gang injunctions can be a very beneficial tool if used and implemented correctly and that they can have a corresponding impact on reducing gang crime in the communities they are implemented.” (Author: Matthew O'Deane, Title: Evaluation of the Effectiveness of Gang Injunctions in California, March 2011, Publisher: The Journal of Criminal Justice Research (JCJR)
The United States Department of Justice issued a report in 1994 which questioned the use of gang injunction orders in large cities, but agreed that such a program effectively reduces gang activity in small towns, cities, and neighborhoods.