East Palo Alto police chief declares ‘crime emergency’

Following the recent violence in East Palo Alto, culminating in Sunday’s killing of a teenager, police Chief Ronald Davis is calling a “crime  emergency” for the department, which took effect Tuesday.

Declaring a “crime emergency” allows the department to cancel days off and make assignment changes as needed. It will more than double the number of patrol officers in the field during critical time periods, Capt. Carl Estelle said Monday.

He said Davis had talked briefly about declaring a crime emergency a couple of weeks ago but that Sunday’s homicide was the final straw.

“[Davis] considered it but late last night, he felt that it’s time to call the crime emergency,” Estelle said. “It’s really the culmination of the last couple of weeks.”

Sunday’s killing of 15-year-old Jose Quinonez was the city’s fifth homicide and one of more than 50 firearm assaults since January, police said.

Eight of those assaults have happened in the past two weeks, according to police.

As part of this, the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office will deploy a multi-agency tactical team to focus its efforts on the Nortenos gang, the gang allegedly responsible for the recent violence spike.

The countywide Gang Task Force will also continue its summer programs in East Palo Alto and throughout the county, Estelle said.

The teams should increase the amount of intelligence law enforcement has on the gangs, Estelle said.

The “crime emergency” will last 30 days and after about two weeks, police will evaluate the success to determine whether to extend or end the action, Estelle said.

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