American Indian community wants improvement in gang policing

Carson City Washoes met with law enforcement officials at the Stewart Indian Colony on Friday to discuss growing concerns about gang activity.

Two investigators from the Bureau of Indian Affairs listened along with a sheriff's deputy to calls for an increased police presence on the reservation and surrounding areas. They said a fight at Mills Park last week along with threats of violence by members of the Tokers gang prompted the meeting.

Six community members were on hand for the meeting.

Terry Boice said when reports of gang presence are given to the department "they kind of shine us on like it's not a problem - but it is a problem."

She said a multi-generation rivalry between the East Carson City gang and youths in the American Indian community is exacerbated by a lack of involvement by the sheriff's department.

A short-staffed Tribal Police force, she said, cannot cover enough ground to respond to reports quickly.

While Deputy Pete Grimm acknowledged department problems with effective gang policing, he said efforts are being made to solve them. By midsummer the department hopes to add two gang specialists to the force, he said.

Currently Grimm and Deputy Mark Marshall constitute the gang task force, started in 1997. Funding for the new officers was allocated in October.

"By having two deputies on every shift, we'll be able to continuously monitor" gang activity, he said.

He added that the department hopes to institute twice-monthly meetings with community members to help identify problem people and areas. A "general order" is also being drafted to identify known gang members.

Without the order, the department is potentially liable for naming and associating residents with gangs. "It's real close to being cut," he emphasized.

Community member Jason May said he and his neighbors have seen gang members cruising the streets of the colony at night, after Tribal Police are off duty.

"Sometimes they sit in their cars at an intersection at 10 or 11 at night, looking to see who's coming and going," he said. Victims of the prowling, he said, are reluctant to come forward for fear of retaliation.

"A lot of the time they don't want to file a report because that's the manly thing to do," said Bureau of Indian Affairs investigator Molly Hernandez. "You deal with it yourself."

Rocky Boice Sr., husband of Terry, argued that some community members are disenchanted with the department and District Attorney's Office. He said when reports have been filed, no action has been taken.

"With all our reporting of gang incidents they have prosecuted zero times," he said.

Some of those present at the meeting were immediate family members of the 10 youths being charged in the Aug. 23, 1998 beating death last summer of Sammy Resendiz, a former member of the Tokers gang.

Grimm said six people were shot and one person killed last summer in gang-related incidents.

Hearings for seven of the 10 defendants accused of the August 1998 murder of Sammy Resendiz were suspended in March, pending a Nevada Supreme Court decision.

District Attorney Noel Waters made the petition to the Supreme Court, asking it to reverse a decision by Judge Michael Fondi that lowered the charges from first- to second-degree murder.

Residents with concerns about gangs are urged to call the department's Gang and Graffiti Secret Witness line at 887-2020 ext. 5001. Callers do not have to identify themselves.


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