Woodland mayor and police chief address uptick in gang violence

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WOODLAND, Calif. (KTXL) — After another shooting in Woodland over the weekend, the city’s mayor told FOX40 News Monday that the city is experiencing an uptick in violent crime that is worse than city leaders have seen in the last 20 years.

Mayor Richard Lansburgh explains violent crime in the city is on the rise, with three homicides in the last five months.

“Woodland is a beautiful town, a safe town. But this recent uptick in gang violence upsets people,” said Lansburgh. “It is rare.”

That’s more than the total number of homicides in 2017 and 2018 combined, with each year having one.

Joined by city staff and Chief of Police Derrek Kaff, the mayor is searching for solutions.

Part of their efforts is already underway, specifically to address what they say is a growing issue of gangs in the area.

“In October we began increasing patrols and we also started taking steps to re-form a gang task force,” Kaff told FOX40 News.

Kaff said he’s dedicating three detectives and a sergeant to deal specifically with gang crime, a team that disbanded back in 2017.

That team is now looking at increasing crime-analysis abilities to better use existing resources.

“It allows us to know where can we put our resources at a time and at a place and who are we looking for, so we can be more effective and efficient,” said Kaff.

The task force is also reaching out to neighboring law enforcement for help, but said parents can play perhaps the largest role in stopping gang activity before it starts.

“If you don’t know what your kids are doing, that means they might be out there getting into trouble, simple things such as not going into school. Truancy is one of the markers of being involved in gang activity,” said Lansburgh.

The mayor encourages any worried parents to get in touch with the city’s youth gang education, intervention and prevention project for help and said city leaders will need your help to bring safety back to these streets.

“This recent uptick in violent crime is not indicative of what Woodland is about and the heart of the vast majority of our people,” said Kaff.

The chief and mayor told FOX40 News that they’re looking into evidence-based solutions that other cities have used in the past, to try to find more proactive ways to stop the violence.

They’re also reaching out to churches and youth groups in the area, to try to get their help in reaching at-risk kids.

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