Fighting Gangs in Menifee

Among the items on my list of top 3 things I'd like the Menifee city council to address is gangs. Living close to Perris, Lake Elsinor...

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Among the items on my list of top 3 things I'd like the Menifee city council to address is gangs.

Living close to Perris, Lake Elsinore, Hemet, our city can be easily be swept up by gangs, and the name "Menifee" will become as synonymous as those three neighboring cities.

Last night on Menifee Valley Talk Radio, Jerry Lopez, a Senior Deputy District Attorney, and head of the Riverside County Gang Task Force—Prevention and Intervention, was on air talking about the gang problem in Riverside County. While he didn't have statistics on gangs here in Menifee, he did have some data county-wide...

  • From 1997 to 2006, Riverside County added 122 new gangs, and 2,600 gang members

  • From 2006 to 2007, Riverside County added 133 more gangs, and 1,300 more gang members

  • Southern California is the mecca for gangs, with Los Angeles County being the most gang-infested area in the entire world.

And that's only counting the gangs and gang members that law-enforcement has records on.

The Root Problem

Lopez said that the problem all starts with poor parenting. He hit this theme hard enough that one could make the assumption that if your child is associating with a gang, that you yourself are a poor parent. He said it's not a financial matter, or an ethnic matter. He went on to say that there could be excellent parents living in Rubidoux, and bad parents living Canyon Lake.

His solution is that parents need to take classes on parenting. He said that when a new baby is born, a hospital ought to offer parenting classes. When a child enters school, schools ought to offer parenting classes. When a child graduates high school, that child ought to take parenting classes.

Failure to Start a Relationship

The poor parenting that Lopez described largely had to do with a failure to establish a relationship between the parent and child. Parents often claim that they're spending time with their kids, being involved in their schooling, and watching what they're getting into. But he said that's not really what he's talking about.

He said that parents are not giving their kids a meaningful relationship, built on love, respect, as well as a working relationship where the two establish goals towards making achievements. Young persons feel they have certain talents they want to develop, and that the development of these skills raises their self-esteem. If they can't develop these talents through their parents, they associate with other kids to achieve that collectively.

Gangs use these all of these things as lures to get them in.

What Can the City of Menifee Do?

I suppose offering these parenting classes is a step, but I think that most parents won't attend. I tend to think that there already are parenting classes out there.

I'd like to see more community-oriented events. The "Movies in the Park" at La Ladera Park ought to continue after the city takes over from the County. That's an excellent example of parents and their children spending an outing together. Let's get this into more of our parks.

Another thing working against Menifee is that most of our families have one or two parents that commute long distances to work and back. They can't always attend the Movies in the Park, or can't get back home in time to take them to Karate classes, or soccer practice, etc. Getting more high paying jobs into Menifee will give parents more time with their kids.

In terms of contracting with the Sheriff, Lopez said that for every gang member they put into prison, there's another 10-20 kids waiting to take that person's place. It's a case of supply outgrowing the demand, and so much so, that kids are starting new gangs altogether.

I don't know if it'll make any difference, but perhaps just having our city council adopt a mission statement that Menifee will be a "family-focused" city, might be the first step towards making Menifee a bad place for gangs to exist.


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  1. Another very important action the city can take towards preventing gangs to infest is to adopt loitering laws as soon as possible to give the sheriff of police some leverage to control kids who are discovered hanging around places when they should be in school.

  2. Are their ways to report gang activity anonymously? Numbers, websites, etc?

  3. Something that is not mentioned is the lack of places and activities of kids to go to...there is no boys and girls club, no movie theater, bowling alley, youth center, swim park (I understand that one is coming) or family fun center...the movie in the park is great for young families but not for teens....its hard for a teen to get a job here in the summer or anytime...

  4. The problem is not a lack of places to go, it's a lack of good parents that will go with them. The places mentioned above will become problem spots with unsupervised teens.

  5. I agree. We need to be family city. If we adopt a culture that gangs are not welcome here and we as citizens take care of our neighborhoods, then they will have difficulty taking root. Governement can only do so much, and most of it too late to really stop it, just control it. So start squeezing cheeks and baking cookies and love the mischeif out of our kids. At the very least say "hi" to your neighbor.

  6. My 3 teenagers are out walking their dogs right now. I'm here at home reading this thread. You can argue that unsupervised kids are a problem, but in reality it's not as simple as that. I have 100% faith that my kids will walk the dogs around the lake, pick up any dog messes, and return home without writing on walls, harassing the community, or any other negative behavior. They have been taught what to do, how to do it, and why rules of good citizenship is important - including gaining parental trust so they can enjoy this type of freedom.

    What is the problem is the kids who are out and about in the community with nothing to do and no discipline. They have no outlet so they loiter around in their "posse" as my kids call them, looking for ways to impress their peers - usually through negative behavior to get a laugh. There are no repercussions for bad behavior because usually the "posse" sticks together and the community ignores their behavior.

    When my daughter was in 7th grade she alerted me to the fact her friend was smoking. I thanked her for sharing that with me and spoke to the friend's mother, whom I was friends with also. Well, her parents didn't take it well, that friendship ended abruptly with the mother in denial and my daughter called a liar. My daughter was ostracized at school by her "friend" and the group she was in because of the mother naming us as the whistleblowers. We see that girl quite often in the Ralphs parking lot late at night in a "posse". Parents have to be willing to listen and change their own behavior in raising their kids.

    Parenting classes are great, but the relationship has to be built long before the kid turns 13. Self-esteem and a solid foundation of belonging to a loving family are extremely important. Some parents may not want to admit they NEED a parenting class or they may feel embarrassed sitting in a room filled with people they may recognize. In this case, I would suggest we also offer a list of reputable parenting books which could be checked out and read in a private location. Also, could the parenting classes be put on a cable channel, internet, or other manner in which the speaker is shown and heard, but the participants are shielded? A curfew is a MUST in Menifee. Temecula has a 10 pm curfew for under 18 and they enforce it! Good Job, Temecula!

    I think it's great that Mr. Lopez wants to help out - now Menifee needs to run with it.

  7. I have never believed in the concept that the govt. can solve all of the problems, including that of gangs and out of control teens. I do, however, believe that part of the solution resides in the city adopting strict curfew regulations, and that the Sheriffs Dept actively enforce those rules.

    Another part of the solution involves the adults and parents of our city. We need to be vigilent and responsive when we see kids misbehaving. When we see kids in the neighborhood doings things they should know are wrong, we contact their parents with a knock on the door. This has never resulted in a negative outcome. The parents have been appreciative in knowing what the kids have been up to, and the children find out quickly that what they do out of their parents sight is still being observed. Thus far, this has worked.

    I am looking forward to October when we officially become a city, and am exicited to be able to participate, along with our city council, in the city's development.

  8. Currently there are no gangs in Menifee! This is per the Sheriff's department.
    One of the problems with juveniles and gangs are that they know that they will not serve any time in jail. The jails are overloaded and they don't even get a slap on the wrist. This goes for adults as well. Until our legal system starts to punish criminal activity properly, then it will continue to happen. We have to make the punishment fit the crime. If you commit murder, then you are executed. If you commit rape, then you are castrated. This works in other countries and the crime is minimal. Remember the kid that got caught vandalizing cars in I think it was Taiwan. He was an American kid and out government stepped in to prevent him from being subject to the laws and penalties of that country. He should have been caned. That country used to have the worst crime in the world and now they are the safest in the world because they adopted new severe punishment from crimes. I go on and on here with statistics that would just blow you away. Look how many people are on death row for over 20 years now and costing us tax payers about $100,000 a year per inmate. That's ridiculous!

  9. Yes, on curfew. Yes, on more places for families, not lone teens to go. A skateboard park would be nice but it is a gang magnet. Everyone says, "not my kid" I have a classroom full of angels whose parents say they are good kids. Parents won't admit that when no one is watching the good kid likes to be bad just like the parent does when they run stop signs, litter, and speed. 3 kids on skateboards were hopping a school fence in broad daylight on Sunday at 12 noon. We pulled over, reminded them that "fence" means stay out. Duh! EVERY community member needs to watch and speak up. Kids will start to get in line and respect our community when they have good examples and know there are A LOT of eyes watching. The kids I spoke to were your "good" kids that live near Ridgemoor. Hopefully, they now know that the community is holding them accountable. Skateboarders, underage smokers, "possies" out to impress etc. need to know their community cares enough to speak up and hold them acountable for being safe, respectful, and for making good choices.

  10. Gangs Gangs where do they come from ohh Perris, Hemet, Lake Elsinore..nooooo.wake up call! From your homes..I see it everyday Parents wanting to be their kids best friend or want to be the cool they let their friends, smoke,drink..the reason is their own lack of values. Folks it is a sad day but when Sales of homes go down, so does the quality of your neighbors. I agree it is not always the poor that bring down communities but it's the poor in spirit and lack of values. I have seen good neighborhoods turn into drug infested sludge because of the quality of people that are moving in. I make sure my kids respect their community, their home, and themselves. Remember the Gangs you are concerned about get housed by you. SOOOOOO Stop your complaining and start kicking them out.

    Honest Jon

  11. I really enjoyed the program, and they will be back next Sunday night to answer any questions. It's also a great opportunity to for residents of Menifee to let the DA's office know that we want to be proactive in our community when it comes to our youth.

    It isn't more laws that we or the police need to control kids. As a community we can volunteer, volunteer, volunteer at schools, at park and rec events, at valleywide, with scouts, youth groups, church groups. Any other organizations that might have helped you achieve success and made an impression on you, please introduce here in Menifee.

    And we do need volunteers for fund raisers so that the groups that already exist can offer scholarships.

    Since our schools only know how to work with the college prep students, and no longer offer any alternate tracks towards business or vocations it's important that the community step up and fill that gap. For every young person active on a sports team, there are 10 others whose parents can't afford the cost of pop warner or NJB or Karate or dance class.

    Commuting parents also means we need more public transportation so that our young people can get around town from school to events to work and home. We have to assume that young people would join positive organizations if they could...but they aren't free and parents are NOT always available for transportation.

  12. Outside of all the other reasons why gangs exist, might want to look at the selected race where this worthlessness comes from...Hispanic, cholo, latina scum..look back over the years and tell me how many gangs there were consisting of white people...deport these idiots and take our state back...

  13. I think it's funny that the one poster associates skateboarding with bad kids. What next bicycles? Come on.

  14. To Anonymous, at July 29, 2008 6:43 AM,
    Give me a break, in case you haven't notice its not just Hispanic gangs roaming around, I heard Paloma high school has white
    supremacy gangs. Oh yeah what about the black gang bangers that have been roaming around a certain park in Menifee. So don't be pointing fingers just on a certain race.

  15. I just moved to Menifee.. I'm really concerned about gangs - what parts of Menifee do they hang out at? I thought Menifee was a safe area - until reading this.

  16. As community memebers - just be vigilant on reporting things and calling the police. This past weekened. several young boys were walking around my nieghborhood goofing off. While I dont think they were doing any thing bad - they were playing hide and go seek around cars in people's driveways. Myself as well as another neighbor came out at the same time and told them we were calling the police. They got out of there fast. By letting kids know that they behavior will not be tolerated, we can slow down the progression of gangs. Menifee is a great place to live. Where I moved from - we would have never attended a community event at the local park. It would have looked like a "fight about to happen." Ive proudly attended all Wheat Field functions nd never once felt threatened.

  17. Gangs are not a product of any specific area, they are not of a certain color or race, they are not a result of declining home values. They are a result of every factor you want to come up with COMBINED. I'm from Santa Barbara and there is a very rich culture of gang activity there. From the lower class neighborhoods to the affluent communities of Montecito (think Oprah) and Hope Ranch. And yes, they are of every race and color. There is not one single reason for their existence and not one single solution to the problem. But, don't be fooled, if they can exist in Santa Barbara they can AND do exist here. Santa Barbara is now having to deal with a very REAL problem with gangs and their activity. They tried ignoring the problem until it smacked them in the face during their most popular and publicized city events and tourist attractions. Now it's a problem they can't ignore. Don't wait 'till it's too late!

  18. To the poster of July 29th @827am:

    Regarding: Attending Events at the Wheatfield Park.

    I feel qualified to reply, since I have been a active Member of the Lake Menifee Women's Club for the last 18years and we proudly bring these events to the residents of the City of Menifee!!
    We are glad you feel safe, and we go the extra mile to make sure these events are staffed with security and members of our local law enforcement. We do not sell Beer or Wine, although we have been told it would bring in lots of money to our club. We feel that it might also invite trouble of another kind. These events should only prove to become bigger and better now that we have the backing of the City of Menifee!!
    Please visit our site:

  19. You have to have something interesting for the kids to do. If there is nothing of interest, that can of spray paint starts to look good. My kids are in scouting. They hiking, going on outings, learning leadership skills and under some kind of supervision. Plus I take a lot of time off from work to do things with them, why have kids if your going to pawn them off on someone else to raise.

  20. I response to Dan,

    "This has never resulted in a negative outcome. The parents have been appreciative in knowing what the kids have been up to."

    This has not been my experience. I've nocked on a few doors of trouble makers over the last few years. For the most part, I was met with apathy, hostility, or denial by the so called parent.

    It seems the apples don't fall too far from trees. This reinforces the statements that this all stems from poor parenting.

    Unfortunately, these parenting classes are usually a waste of time because these "parents" would never attend something like that. Even when ordered to attend by a court, the ideals of such classes miss the mark with this class of losers.

  21. Im really glad to read all of the concerns and solutions from my neighborhood and Im especially happy to know that only one idiot made it about race. The reality is tha their are little consequences these days so until we start killing all of these criminals for tearing our communities apart then nothing will be solved. I have to say though, I have never encourted any gang members in the city, im sure they are here and around us, but Im glad to see that they are not comfortable enough to be out in the open.

  22. This was an excellent dicussion. I applaud all you. There was only one idiot, but I think his meth lab assistant just called for him...

  23. What I learned from the program is that Gang affiliation is preventable and correctable. Success in a positive environment, a team, a group, or a classroom is one of the best deterrants.
    I think the authorities have a handle on the "suppression", and only hope for loitering laws to help with that. But since gang affiliation becomes a reality in 6-8th grade, our year - round schools counteract what can be done with those laws.
    Our community needs a Comprehensive Community Wide Approach to Gang Prevention and Intervention, and we can't control parents in the prevention stage. We can help parents and students alike though, by making sure our Churches, Schools and Parks are doing their very best to provide programs and resources to help kids find a successful identity through positive activities and participation.
    If our local Scouts, Youth groups, school clubs and sporting teams would actively recruit our youth; and the organizations were sensitive to economic and transportation needs to encourage carpools and scholarships we could be gang free in Menifee.
    I'd also like to propose that if you have lawns to mow, or yards to clean or flyers to pass out that you consider posting job opportunities for our young people.

  24. I'm a leader/committee member for both a Cub Scout Pack and Boy Scout Troop in the Menifee area. The only problem with recruitment is we have to have the blessing of the school principle and faculty. We drop off flyers and hope for the best. We are not allowed to put them in mailboxes at the schools. If you are interested in Scouting in the Menifee area here is our web site.

    Both units are very active. Tonight, Wednesday July 30th we are having a meeting at Calle Kirkpatrick Elementary school at 6PM. If you would like to check it out, it's water balloon night so dress for wetness! We will try to have events but it usually turns into a free for all after five minutes. It's fun for all. We have contact info on the webpage or you can e-mail me:

    Steve Iwig
    Committee Member
    Pack & Troop 444
    Menifee, Ca.

  25. Here's a number for Riverside County graffiti removal.

    Graffiti hotline 951.955.3333 or 866.732.1444 (toll free)

    or you can report online

    Reporting graffiti in our community is one way citizens can help.

    Make sure you have a cross street ready (mapquest helps with this).

    Taggers can be prosecuted even if they are junveniles. And their parents will be charged with the cost of their incarceration and restitution.

    Perhaps, an advertising campaign to tell parents know that what their kids do will impact their pocketbooks might help. i.e. the daily cost of juvenile hall.

  26. Here's the Riverside County Gang Task Force Website..

    Call them up at:

    To Report Any Gang Activity Please Contact:

    (951)922-7733 Day Or Night

  27. Okay, I know that we are kind of getting off of the original post here, but I have to add my 2 cents.

    My son did scouts for awhile. I thought it would be really good for him to learn to do new things, make some new friends and reinforce what I have been teaching him his whole life. Commitment, honor, values etc. However, my experience with the scouts was very different than I imagined it to be.
    We were involved for about 3 months. During those 3 months I put out a couple hundred dollars for uniforms, books camping trips (which ended up being canceled because of the fires) and other supplies for his pack. Not to mention that in those 3 months, we were asked to do 6 fundraisers! It was frowned upon if you did not participate.

    I understand that each pack is different and this was just my experience. But that's what sent me over the top. I have 2 other children and am a stay-at-home mom. I couldn't afford the scouts. So as much as scouting sounds great to help kids be a part of something, and stay out of trouble (which I do believe it does) I just don't think that most families can afford it, even if both parents work. It is a HUGE commitment not only financially, but the kids have to be there at every meeting and event. If both parents work, or it's a single parent family, or a family with more than one child it is REALLY tough!

  28. As far as affordable goes, There are campership funds to help out parents with financial trouble. I have three sons in Scouting and A daughter in Girl Scouts so I know how hard it can be financially. My kids don't make all of the camps but they get to go to most. If anyone has any questions about Pack & Troop 444 I will be happy to answer any questions I can.

    Steve Iwig
    Pack & Troop 444

  29. thanks for the contact info

  30. Steve and Chatty regarding Scouting. Cathy, I understand exactly what you mean about funding youth programs. It doesn't matter what the program is, the costs and fund raising efforts can be overwhelming. We not only need to give ALL parents information about scholarships, camperships, but info on uniform and equipment recycling.
    Steve, What more can scouts do to solicit corporate and business sector help to assist at the scout/parent level, not just camps.

    This is exactly the kind of dialogue leaders and parents and the business community needs to have in order to offer alternatives for our youth.

    Team sports is another big deterrent to gang participation. Any ideas on how to make sports team memberships more affordable for our youth? How can we get YMCA type pricing for our programs?

    Oh...and to the readers who think that there are no gangs in Menifee... I asked my middle school and high school grandsons and their friends about whether they were aware of any gangs at school and they all said..."YES!". They also said most are 'wannabes', which isn't a good message either.

  31. I am a retired police officer and I can tell you that parenting classes is not the answer, nor is wholesome activities which may be offered. Scouting is not the answer, although I was a scout and
    it helped me in life.
    The biggest reason these solutions won't work is that you'll get very few takers. A lot
    of parents are no more mature than
    their children, it's our society!!
    Our teachers in our schools are teaching our children(yes in Menifee), that oral sex is not wrong,nor is it sex. I wonder where
    they got that idea---OVAL OFFICE??
    The kids who want to learn in the
    classroom are ridiculed by both the
    other students and also some teachers. It's very hard to learn anything when there are so many
    distractions and noise in the class. The teachers don't seem to have the will nor the power to stop it. Listen to the music that's
    being put out by the industry,the
    video games,the movies,the T.V.
    Our children are being bombarded by
    people or organizations who know
    what they're doing and why. If we
    can raise a child the correct way in this environment, it's probably
    an anomoly. All of the FEEL GOOD
    programs in the community will not
    be enough to fight this cancer that
    has swept our country. The answer
    is in dicipline and consistancy.
    We need to show the so-called leaders of our entertainment comm.
    school community and politions that
    we have had ENOUGH.

  32. I think if there was a solution to gangs then we would be rid of them. There is nothing that can be done to rid the world of gangs. It is human nature to want to belong and be respected. We have all touched on things that can help... activities, discipline and consistency, communication and a relationship with your kids, etc. The ret officer hit the nail on the head, a lot of parents are less mature than their kids, so maybe a decent sex ed plam in our country would help. The real issue though is keeping gangs and gang problems out of our community. The bottom line is if we allow it then we are at fault. Take a look at yourselves, your neighbors, and your involvement in your community. If you see kids hanging out in places they shouldn't be then call the sheriff or round up some of your neighbors and confront them, get a store manager to ask them to leave the area. Whatever is safe and gets results. We can't sit back and ignore inappropriate behaviors. If you see something and don't take action you are guilty too.

    As parents we are responsible to teach our kids right from wrong and to provide for them as best as we can. Kids don't need to be a part of a gang if they feel they are a part of a family or other healthy relationship.

  33. Yeah, teachers suck. Let's blame them!

    I agree with you, that parenting classes are not effective due to the lack of participation by those who need it most. However, you could not be more out-of-touch on the rest of your take.

    Teachers are the only good things going for some of these kids. Unfortunately, teachers cannot overide the effects of crappy parents.

    You show me a teacher that taught children that oral sex is "not wrong, nor is it sex" and I'll show you an unemployed teacher. Also, why would any teacher ridicule a "kid that wants to learn".

    It's not TV, or music, or Monica Lewinski, or video games, or teachers, or schools, or Presidents, or __________.

    It's crappy parents that should not have children.

    Keanu Reeves said it best:

    " need a license to buy a dog, to drive a car - hell, you even need a license to catch a fish. But they'll let any b***-reaming a**hole be a [parent]."

    - Parenthood (1989)

  34. so true...
    well said!

  35. Here, here to the anonymous person who talked about punishment for the offender. Not only should a gang member who commits a crime be sentenced to the maximum allowable time in prison, the parents should also serve some time, and pay retrobution to the victim(s). If you hit them with a severe enough penalty, it may not stop gang activity, but you can bet it will have some impact. I'm sure a lot of these parents are on welfare, live on food stamps, and would rather live off the government, than work for a living. Then there are the honest working parents, who have just failed in raising a child somehow. A parent can go to jail for spanking their child, yet gang members are committing felony crimes daily, and no real punishment is given out. Do the crime, do the time!

  36. You can not go to jail for spamking your child.

    You summed it up with your comment though. People are too afraid to discipline their children. The law does not stop you from taking your open hand to your child's butt as long as you are not inflicting injury to your child. There is a difference in being hurt and being injured.

    I know this will spark a whole lot a passion in some of you but I couldn't let it go...

  37. City council members..instead of your Rotary club/flower groups..get a committee on gang intervention. If you ignore this problem as someone from Santa Barbara will hit you at the worst time..I have seen it in several nice communities..especially since new businesses are trying to sprout wings..if they don't feel safe or the community at one will shop at gang malls...and the monies will still be spent in Temecula and Murietta

  38. After nearly 2 decades in Municipal Govt. I've seen many cities tackle these issues. Some get a good handle on these problems, where others leave it to fix itself, which never happens.

    There are a few things that can be implemented to help:

    1)Give the Officers the tools they need to enforce and rectify.

    2)Strict curfew & loitering laws-punish with community service (clean up the city's right-of-way)

    2)Continued offenses-parents be fined and be required to take parenting classes.

    3)Excessive offenses-if a minor, mandatory probation and counseling.

    The officers can only do what they are governed by the written law, that's were the taxpayers need to step up to the plate and make these ordinances/laws be placed into effect.

    If the children have a lack to do, bring in business' such as Incredible Pizza (ie Springfield, Mo & Tulsa, Ok). Children that are doing good should be examples for the others with visual community rewards, ie college tuition waivers, local scholarships, etc.

    I'm a parent of 3 teenage daughters, which have had friends come and go with some being those wandering souls. Sadly to say the parents have to be forced into participating in their child's well being.

  39. For some who think there are no gangs in Menifee....Drive around the High School and see the gang writings on the wall ! They are here....Maybe not in full force yet....but that's a matter of time...The problem is you just can't make some parents care about what their kids do...These are kids who are not into sports programs , who get an award at school and no one shows up to see them , It all comes down to parent involvement...People MUST take the time to be active in their childrens lives. We all work and some longer times than others..some time must be set aside to show an interest in your kids, otherwise they look for attention in "bad things". Thats the parents who end up in a courtroom waiting to see how much time their children will do in Prison, when its too late.

  40. As I was going through this thread, it occurred to me! As a mother of 6 (yes 6) home schooled children I often have contemplated the breakdown in our society as a whole. I see all types of family dynamics and it really does boil down to a generational problem. Somewhere between the baby boomers and my generation there was a break down. People became more interested in the immediate and material things in life. We strive to teach our children values that may seem old fashioned by todays two parent working families who are trying to give their children "everything". A society where a sense of entitlement is rampant. I do think we can create a new ideal for our young children. So I propose this. What about a mentor program where the elderly of our community could use their wisdom and shed some values that are very much missing in todays society. It would give children a different perspective and our elders hope in the next few generations. I agree we have a lot of work ahead of us as parents these days. If we can get past our own desires to be filled with outside possessions, we may be able to pass on the gift of true happiness to our children.

    thanks for letting me rant


  42. Wow...what an endorsement for staying in school!