Wednesday, July 16th, three Norteno gang members robbed a bank in Stockton. Intercepted by police, they took three hostages and fled in a Ford Explorer belonging to one of the hostages. Stockton Police needed over an hour of pursuit and gunfire to kill two gangsters and capture a third. Two hostages were injured and one was killed.
Typical of terrorist events, countless gunshots were fired by the perpetrators. The event terrorized the community. Undoubtedly, many citizens of Stockton wonder if and when a similar event will happen again. Valley citizens in other communities, including nearby Modesto, must wonder how effective police response would be to a terrorist event.
Stockton police chief Eric Jones said the level of violence was unprecedented. What is unsettling is that there are large gangs of Nortenos and Surenos in and around many Valley communities. They constitute a terrorist group. Police must respond strongly to the presence of these gangs or doom citizens to live in fear.
Stockton put twenty police officers on paid leave to recuperate for the actions of three gang members. Given the low numbers of police officers in Stockton’s and Modesto, a small group of violent gang members can completely neutralize a local police department. Local police are not equipped to deal with violence like Stockton saw on July 17th.
The police were duly concerned with the wellbeing of the hostages that were taken and did not immediately employ maximum force. Had the police chosen to use maximum force, the incident could probably have been ended in much sooner. But given the violence of the gangsters, the police were in a no-win situation. The incident probably ended with the lowest possible number of lost lives. Had Stockton police gone in full force from the outset, all of the passengers in the fugitive vehicle could have been killed.
What Is Now Needed
Now that the vulnerability of local police forces has been exposed, higher levels of government need to step up and provide greater resources to deal with organized crime. Gangs need to be more aggressively dealt with. Lifetime prison sentences for gang membership should become more frequent for the leaders and masterminds. They should be dealt with as terrorists and traitors as they are undermining the fabric of our society and weakening our country.
As gang violence has set a new precedent, police should assume extreme violence will become the norm, just as mass school shootings have become more commonplace. The violence will only become worse until the appropriate response is reached. Gangsters should receive harsher penalties and gang graffiti should be eradicated. Until the graffiti is completely eradicated, the problem should not be considered under control.
The City of Chicago has been dealing with extreme gang violence for over 80 years. Our nation has had problems with gangs since the 1800’s, as exemplified by the gangs of New York City. Government only manages to do the minimum in the fight to eradicate and eliminate gangs. Perhaps if we devoted as much effort and resources to eradicating domestic gang terrorists as is devoted to foreign wars and interventions, we could make progress toward eliminating the scourge of our society.