Second Gang Unit Helps Yakima Lower Gang Activity This Summer - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Second Gang Unit Helps Yakima Lower Gang Activity This Summer

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YAKIMA, WA. -- For years now, Yakima has struggled with a gang problem. But the police department says recent changes are slowing down gang members and making a big difference in the community.

Yakima may be notorious for a gang problem but the officers on the front lines say that is changing. And it's changing fast. 

"All the work everybody has been doing," Sgt. Uriel Mendoza said. "I think it's finally paying off."

Sergeant Mendoza is the gang unit supervisor. He says the city has made huge changes to help reduce gang activity. Since January, officers have been assigned take home vehicles, and a new second gang unit puts gang patrols on the streets 7 days a week.

"It seems like we're everywhere," Sgt. Mendoza said. "So all of that together is helping."

A perfect example of the gang unit's increased presence happened during our ride along. While driving, Sergeant Mendoza saw a known gang member pass by.

"(He was) driving southbound. Man he looked at me like he had no worries," Sgt. Mendoza said. 

After a quick computer search, he discovered the gang member had a felony warrant out for his arrest, and notified the other officers to keep an eye out for him. 

"This is what 7 days a week does," Sgt. Mendoza said. "Knowing these guys and being on 7 days a week, is huge because we get them before they commit any crimes or get any kind of momentum going."

But besides that, it was a quiet evening, which allows Sergeant Mendoza to be able to do some community outreach. And even though things are going well, Mendoza knows the city still has a long way to go to stop all gang activity in Yakima. 

"They know we're out here everyday," Sgt. Mendoza said. "And they know we're not going to give up."