Community and City Reach Out to Known Gang Members in Stockton

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As the City of Stockton deals with one of the worst shootings in its history, officials outline their goals and share how they're proactively reaching out to known gang members. Officers visited the neighborhood where the drive by shooting took place but reaching out to some residents proved to be challenging.

The Stockton Police Department's Neighborhood Impact Protocol Team was out in full force Wednesday. Some residents shared their frustration with police off-camera. “Sometimes it’s going to be a tough conversation. Sometimes they’re going to scrutinize what we're doing,” Officer Joe Silva, the Stockton Police Department's spokesperson told FOX40.

Officer Silva said the team goes out to neighborhoods where tragedies have occurred. Those gathered at Madison Market grieved for Aliyah Taylor, Kavin Kennebrew, and Arniska Lofton, the three who died in a gruesome drive-by shooting Tuesday night, according to San Joaquin County officials. Another four were injured. “Gang activity, drug dealing happening here. A lot of people are afraid to give uniformed officers, detectives information when we’re out here,” Silva explained.

There's a high mistrust of police. The City's Office of Violence Prevention has also been trying to turn things around in Stockton, but have faced similar challenges. "The population that we’re dealing with have been most likely involved in gang violence for some time in their (lives) and involved in gun violence, also,” Ken Praegitzer, the Program Manager with Operation Peacekeeper said.

Operation Peacekeeper connects counselors and organizations to clients, “Work with them try to get them lined up with a job, resume building and preparing them for an interview, things of that nature,” Praegitzer explained.

Clients who may be known gang members. A program, city officials explained, which aims to steer them toward a better path.

Some community organizers are mobilizing with a message of hope and change. "We know that we don’t… we’re not going to be able to save everybody in this city but we are saving people,” Senior Pastor Mando Peraza, with Victory Outreach explained.

Senior Pastor Peraza knows the hard realities of Stockton all too well. "At one time, I was involved with heroin addiction, violence, robberies, stealing." The former parolee turned pastor said he's hopeful the efforts of his church, Victory Outreach, will help those hurting in Stockton.

"I feel like they really just need to understand each other, you feel me? Understand we (sic) all family,” Curtis Brown, a friend of victim Aliyah Taylor said.

"A lot of people say, they think there’s no hope, but there is hope. So we intervene with a message of hope,” the Pastor told us. Pastor Peraza said his parishioners, some of whom are ex-gang members, reach out to residents who may need guidance. "We do what they call hardcore outreach, hardcore evangelism where we go into the neighborhood."

Their efforts may not be accepted by all, but those wanting change recognize it has to begin somewhere. “Leave an example not somebody that’s a bad example. It’s (sic) too much of that out here already,” Brown said.

Pastor Peraza said their outreaching efforts for the Madison Market neighborhood will take place this Sunday evening.

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