A four-month investigation into a large gang fight from last summer resulted in a multi-agency gang sweep in Oakdale Monday morning, Jan. 12.
Oakdale Police Chief Lester Jenkins said over 40 law enforcement personnel, including SWAT teams and officers from the Ceres Police, Turlock Police, and Stanislaus Sheriff’s departments along with Stanislaus County probation officers and agents from the Central Valley Gang Task Force simultaneously converged on four locations at 8:30 a.m. due to increased gang activity in the city. A fifth location was searched later in the day.
The sweep was a result of an Aug. 31 large gang fight where four citizens were severely beaten by a group of Norteños according to Jenkins.
“We haven’t had the resources to keep up with case follow up, which resulted in the delay,” Jenkins said. “We only started planning this action about two weeks ago.”
Jenkins said three residences were hit on the 500 block of North Fifth Avenue, one location in the 300 block of South Third Avenue, and one residence on the 300 block of South Fifth Avenue.
The department however made only two arrests in the sweeps.
“Not many people were at home,” Jenkins said. “The investigation is still on-going for other suspects.”
Arrested in the sweep were Dominque Walker, 23, of Oakdale, for three counts of assault with a deadly weapon and gang enhancements and Gerardo Perez, 24, for three counts of assault with a deadly weapon, battery, and gang enhancements.
Both were booked at Stanislaus County Jail.
Department representatives said in the process of the sweep a beanbag gun was deployed on an aggressive pit bull at one of the North Fifth Avenue addresses. At that residence a total of four pit bulls were removed and taken to the Oakdale Animal Shelter.
The pit bull that was struck with the bean bag was taken to a local veterinarian.
Jenkins said the enforcement overtime was financed through AB 109 grant money.
A few months ago Jenkins had told the city council that funding for specialized enforcement was available but not being done because of a lack of personnel within the department.
Six years ago the police department had a staffing level of 28 full-time sworn police officers. Through attrition and budget cuts resulting in subsequent lay-offs of sworn positions, staffing levels steadily dropped and vacant positions were not backfilled. Lately, the department has been working with only 19 full-time sworn officers, with two of those off injured.
The department recently received approval from the city to increase its staffing.
“As we’re increasing the number of officers, we’ll be able to be more proactive and follow-up cases quicker,” Jenkins said.