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