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Police Plan Safety Event
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Seeking community help to combat criminal street gangs and the fear and intimidation they spread in some neighborhoods, Riverbank Police Chief Bill Pooley is planning a special event at Castleberg Park at Eighth Street and Kentucky Avenue. The gathering is set for Friday, Sept. 2, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

"Residents have to report crime to us. We must break this cycle of secrecy," he told council members at a recent Riverbank City Council meeting. "One resident told me her nephew had a gun pointed at his head but that incident was never reported. We need to set up a partnership with the community (so residents are not afraid to report crime)."

Pooley promised to bring members of Stanislaus County Sheriff's teams like the bomb squad, dive team and Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team to Friday's event. But what he is really seeking, he added, is some frank conversation between residents and the police on ways of reporting and preventing street gangs.

Police experts will also give advice to parents on spotting signs of growing interest in gang membership in their children's behavior around the house.

Neighborhood Watch programs have proven to be an effective deterrent against street gang activities, he said, and he encourages the formation of more groups of residents willing to watch the neighborhood and report crime.

"We had just three Neighborhood Watches in town when I started here," Pooley said. "There are now 12. We could double that number, just in the states streets alone. You have to report to us."

The Friday night event is open to all community residents.