Oakland’s three and a half month-old court order prohibiting 15 members of a north Oakland gang from gathering in public has not had much of an effect on south Berkeley’s crime rate.
The area south of Ashby Avenue to the Oakland border has not seen any increase — or decrease — in violent crime in the last few months, according to a report Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan will present to the City Council Tuesday night.
There were 40 incidents in that three and a half month period, which is around the number there were in the three months before the gang injunction went into effect on June 2, according to the report. Most of those were minor assaults, although there were three cases where guns were used. One of those was the June 3 murder of Kenneth Jerome Tims Jr., who was shot as he was walking on King street near 62nd street.
“The detectives are not seeing an increase in the number of north Oakland gang members subject to the injunction coming to Berkeley,” said Sgt. Mary Kusmiss, a spokeswoman for the Berkeley police department. “We have been following it closely and we haven’t seen any impact at all.”
Since 2002, there have been numerous shootings between members of various Oakland gangs, like the NSO (Northside Oakland), 6100s, and a group of affiliated south Berkeley drug dealers who don’t have a formal name, according to Kusmiss. Often times, these people shoot one another over “disrespect” when one feels insulted by another, when one loses at a dice game, or eyes someone else’s girlfriend, she said. The violence generally intensifies in the summer months when the weather improves. Tims was apparently murdered as a result of this rivalry, according to police.
“We don’t like to call it a border war because war to us seems like a powerful word,” said Kusmiss. “It’s a powerful feud between two gangs, one in north Oakland and one in Berkeley, that has resulted in shootings and homicide. A lot of it has resulted from disrespect.”
When the courts approved Oakland’s June 2 injunction, prohibiting 15 named gang members from publicly congregating, Berkeley police were concerned those gang members would hang out in Berkeley instead, said Kusmiss. That has not happened.
To monitor the situation, the Berkeley police stepped up its communication with the Oakland police department. While the two cities have always shared information, police officials met even more often after June 2, she said.
On June 9, the Berkeley police department started a “Border Violence Reduction Strategy” to prevent additional crime along the border between the two cities, according to the report. More patrol cars roamed area to act as a deterrent to crime, there were more beat cops on the street, and the Uniformed Drug Task Force focused their enforcement efforts in the area south of Ashby Avenue. A sergeant and six officers are assigned to that task force.
Detectives used information gathered by various officers to cultivate informants, learn about brewing feuds, track drug dealers and gang members, and carefully watch the movement of suspects, said Kusmiss. This information was shared with Oakland police.
This monitoring resulted in 16 “prosecutable cases,” according to the report.