Adopting an Ordinance Establishing a Gang-Free Zone Map in the City of Pharr
May 1, 2012
The Pharr Police Department has been proactively addressing gang prevention through its H2O (Helping to Overcome) gang reduction program which is grant funded. The department also delivers the G.R.E.A.T. (Gang Resistance Education and Training) program year round at P.S.J.A. schools and Valley View schools. We further collaborate with the Boys and Girls Club of Pharr in gang resistance presentations to club members and help the Boys and Girls Club “Toros” Rugby team. We further have joined forces with our Public Works Department Graffiti Abatement Team which has been doing a great job removing graffiti not allowing it to take hold of an area within the city.
On the enforcement side the department engages in weekly specialized gang enforcement in the City of Pharr joining resources with I.C.E. (Immigration and Criminal Enforcement) and A.T.F. (Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms). Gang members with outstanding warrants of arrest are sought and visited at their homes during the evening conducting searches when warranted.
The department maintains a gang database in a statewide system (TxGang Database) for intelligence sharing and enhancing our gang enforcement efforts. The intelligence efforts have provided for valuable information that has led to arrests gang members connected to recent violent crime occurring in neighboring cities.
This department is seeking that the city commission consider and adopt an ordinance establishing and approving a gang-free zone map for the City of Pharr. The Texas Penal Code provisions allowing maps as evidence of location or area requires that a map outlining location and boundaries of a gang free zone be produced or reproduced by a municipal engineer for the purpose of showing the location and boundaries of gang-free zones. Gang Free Zones are created 1000 ft around schools, youth centers, public parks having 3 or more play stations, and 300 ft around shopping centers and theaters.
The gang free zones map will allow our enforcement efforts to become more effective since it increases the punishment prescribed for the next highest category of offense if the actor is 17 years of age or older. Crimes that will receive this higher category include amongst others murder, capital murder, arson, aggravated robbery, robbery, aggravated kidnapping, kidnapping, aggravated assault, aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault, forgery, deadly conduct (drive-by shootings), and assault punishable as a Class A misdemeanor.
Once adopted, the department will initiate a public information and education strategy to give notice to our citizens of the City of Pharr proactive approach in providing for public safety and addressing gangs in public areas. Enforcing the gang free zones and continued proactive gang enforcement will send a message to would be gang members that their criminal conduct will be met with arrest and enhanced punishments.
On May 1, 2012 the city commission approved the 1st reading of the ordinance.