HAYWARD – Recent court rulings affirming the implementation of gang injunctions in Oakland may push the filing of similar injunctions in Hayward into next year as the city attorney’s office tweaks a version of its own.

When asked Tuesday about a timetable for the filing of the city’s first injunctions against 400 known gang members in Hayward, City Attorney Michael Lawson said his office is using Oakland’s legal actions as a guide and does not believe the city will file injunctions anytime this year.

Hayward City Attorney
Michael Lawson
The statement contrast earlier comments made by Lawson loosely targeting “sometime this fall” for the beginning of the controversial and sometimes costly tool to combat the city’s growing problem with gang violence.
An Alameda County Superior Court judge affirmed in late June Oakland’s legal stance regarding gang injunctions. The Oakland City Council, though, voted this spring to limit the program to its current jurisdictions within a 2-square-mile section of the Fruitvale District and an 100-block swath in North Oakland.
Lawson says the city council has yet to be briefed on the latest developments, but says that the body has made clear this is a strategy they strongly support. The City Council approved taking the first steps towards gang injunctions in 2009 when it received federal funding for three police officers to form the groundwork of a larger Gang Injunction Unit.

During a work session in March, the council voiced general approval for the program, although one member in particular, Councilman Mark Salinas, worried about the message gang injunctions would send to the city’s youth. “This tool, as oppose to other law enforcement tools,” he said, “sends a very big ripple effect to how we construct on how we look at the young people in this city.” Hayward Mayor Michael Sweeney reiterated at the same meeting that the vexing problems associated with gang activity consistently tops the list of public surveys.
Lawson said new Hayward Police Chief Diane Urban is up to speed with the city’s work on gang injunctions and has experience with the issue. During Urban’s 25-year career at the San Jose Police Department, the city become the first Bay Area city to deploy gang injunctions.

“Gang injunctions are just a tool,” Urban said Tuesday after her swearing-in ceremony at City Hall. “They’re not a panacea, but one of many tools. If deployed judiciously, I think it will make this community feel safer.” – Steven Tavares