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Santa Barbara Police Testify About Gang Activity During Injunction Trial

The last week of testimony in the Santa Barbara gang-injunction trial focused on local law enforcement’s experience with gang crimes and the investigative process.

After several officers testified about specific incidents of assault, vandalism and witness intimidation, Assistant District Attorney Hilary Dozer called Santa Barbara police Sgt. Dave Henderson back to the stand to talk about two major investigations — Operation Gator Roll and Operation Falling Dawn — which targeted local gang members and associates.

He supervised the Gator Roll investigation, which lasted from September 2007 to October 2008.

Along with state and federal agencies, police served 71 arrest and search warrants throughout the tri-counties on Oct. 15, 2008, Henderson testified. Information from that investigation also led to arrests in the 2007 Lorenzo Carachure murder.

Henderson said police use major investigations and a variety of daily tactics to address gang violence, gang crimes and gang nuisance in Santa Barbara.

They have directed patrols aimed at specific areas and bike patrols that frequent the Eastside and Westside areas with higher concentrations of crime activity, he said.

Police use a gang-suppression team, plain car and plain-clothes officer surveillance, electronic monitoring and wiretapping, informants, undercover officers and help from other agencies.

With all of this, police can’t stop the gang activity from happening, Henderson said.

Police track gang incidents and gang-related incidents, which have an important distinction.

Gang incidents are tied to the gang itself, like someone yelling out “Westside” during a fight. Gang-related incidents can be anything, but it means a person involved has been identified by police as a gang member, active participant or associate.

Some people are required to register as a gang member as part of the California Street Terrorism Enforcement and Prevention Act, which is part of the Penal Code, but there are no restrictions that come with that, police testified.

Judge Colleen Sterne, who has the ultimate authority to grant or deny the proposed injunction, asked if Santa Barbara police keep some kind of roster for these locally registered gang members.

There’s a hard copy with the moniker and gang affiliation for each person, but police don’t regularly reference the list, according to testimony.

Under the proposed gang injunction, any named individuals would have restrictions within the proposed safety zones, which make up about a third of the city and include most of its parks.

Defense attorneys will start calling witnesses after the City Attorney’s Office, District Attorney’s Office and Police Department representatives finish calling their witnesses.

The trial continues Wednesday in Santa Barbara Superior Court.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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