Washington’s attorney general wants to have legal power to crack down on gangs that prosecutors in California already possess.
Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist wants it too.
In 2004, a gang called the Bulldogs menaced a neighborhood in Fresno, Calif. Graffiti covered buildings. Thugs loitering outside a convenience store demanded payment to allow shoppers inside. Visitors leaving the Chaffee Zoo would find their cars broken into.
That’s how Greg Anderson, chief deputy district attorney of Fresno County, describes what was happening. Then, Anderson says: “It just disappeared. It just stopped.”
Gang activity didn’t go away completely. But in early 2005, major crimes as measured by FBI statistics dropped 35 percent from a year earlier in that part of town, Anderson said.
He gives the credit to the civil injunction his office obtained against the Bulldogs – a legal order that prohibited gang members from doing any of a long list of activities in the neighborhood.
Now, Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna has asked the Legislature to create a kind of restraining order for gang members that is similar to the orders domestic violence victims file against their abusers.
If he succeeds, authorities could obtain an order from a judge that would limit a gang member’s otherwise legal behavior in so-called “protection zones,” neighborhoods or cities where the gang operates.
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