ATWATER, CA – The Atwater Police Department, which has never been held to scrutiny by any local media, recently announced a sixth arrest today connection with what officers say were recent gang-related crimes.
Lt. Samuel Joseph announced the arrest of a 15-year-old who is alleged to have assaulted someone with a baseball bat on February 16th in Atwater. The teenager admitted using the bat.
The mayor recently held a town hall meeting and told residents that he and the Chief of Police, who is also his own boss as the City Manager, Frank Peitro have a hold on the decades old gang problem now after the arrests of five gang members on Wednesday this past week. But gang experts note that with thousands of Sureno gang members in Merced County, and with several hundred in Atwater alone, the police could be patting themselves pre-maturely on the back.
How to fix the problem? Without any money in the city’s coffers, the city is merely applying a band-aid on a long-standing wound and no one, not even the mayor has offered a solution other than to lock up 6 people. And according to residents in the area, they are worried the gangs will be hunting down snitches.
“The neighborhood is run by slum lords,” said one woman who MCNTV News gave the mayor’s cell phone number to, “and I was shocked when the mayor said that they took care of the gang problem four years ago. I can’t afford to move otherwise I would have been long gone. If you live on this side of town and call the PD you get treated differently. I recently reported an incident where a neighbor went to pull into their driveway and one of the gang members jumped in front of their car. Words were exchanged and the gang member went to their car and pulled out a shotgun. Everyone took off including the neighbor in his car. He couldn’t come home for days and when he did go to the police department to file a complaint, they wouldn’t even acknowledge him. Even after he told them he was almost shot. We live in constant fear and a few people getting locked up doesn’t stop anything. They control the jails and prisons so they will just order their gangs to retaliate.”
Another elderly woman who wished to remain anonymous stated that, “They are always hanging out in several garages on Swaps Street and we don’t come outside unless we absolutely have to. It’s even worse when you hear gunshots and screams at night.”
Though the city’s mayor claims the violence is recent, residents know that is not the case and that there have been almost daily shootings in that area for several years. They had several requests to this mayor and past mayors, the Chief of police and the Atwater PD only to be laughed at or shunned. After all, it’s not like any of them donate $15,000 to the city.
Residents have recently gotten to their breaking point and have started to hold the mayor and Frank accountable and have started to look at how the city council seems to have also turned a blind eye to the suffering of Atwater residents in the Determine and Swaps area.