Merced-area leaders discuss gang violence prevention

Elected officials and law enforcement agents rolled out a plan Friday they say will attack Merced County’s gang violence both before and after it happens.
The $4.5 million Violence Interruption/Prevention Emergency Response program uses social media, gang sources and information databases to intervene before violence happens, according to leaders. Another $20 million in the state’s budget would go to police departments with 100 or fewer officers to implement plans to work with young people before they join gangs.
Pushed through the state legislature by Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced, and state Sen. Anthony Cannella, R-Ceres, the budget items still need approval from Gov. Jerry Brown.
Merced County had 93 murders in the past three years, according to District Attorney Larry Morse. The county had 10.9 homicides per 100,000 residents in the latest numbers available, he said, which is double the state average.
The public meeting at City Hall attracted dozens of people. Not everyone, however, was convinced the plan was a good one. Some said Merced County is over policed already.

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