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Is Gang Activity on the Rise in Nampa Idaho?

Updated on May 28, 2015

An Interesting Morning

I received a surprise this morning when I was taking out my garbage. As I dumped plastic bags into our container, I looked to the right and saw a large, gang-like tag on a public building next to Nampa City Hall.

This mural fell onto the backdrop of a much larger discussion that has taken place in our area.

As Nampa Police Chief Craig Kingsbury wrote on March 29, "During the past several weeks, local media have reported some tragic homicides, a string of armed robberies and even a shooting involving a Canyon County sheriff’s deputy. This type of news shocks the conscience of most Treasure Valley residents."

Thus, when I saw the graffiti, I couldn't help but ask myself a question that is been buzzing in coffee shops, churches, businesses and wherever people meet. Are crime and gang-activity on the rise in Nampa and the rest of Canyon County?

What is a Gang?

According to the Canyon County Prosecutor's Office, a gang is:

A group of people who form an alliance for a common purpose and engage in violent or criminal activity. Defined in the Idaho Code §18-8502: “Criminal Gang” means an ongoing organization, association, or group of three (3) or more persons, whether formal or informal, that has a common name or common identifying sign or symbol, whose members individually or collectively engage in or have engaged in a pattern of criminal gang activity.

The Controversy

A March 16 Idaho Press Tribune article called Last week’s homicide echoes Nampa’s past says:

The unsolved homicide of Jose Cruz Corona in Nampa on March 8 has echoes of Nampa’s gang-plagued past, Nampa police sergeant and former gang unit officer Jason Kimball said.

When he began with the Nampa Police Department nine years ago, Kimball recalled, its criminal element was far bolder than it is today. It wasn’t uncommon for gang members — fully dressed down in colors — to walk down the middle of public streets, refusing to move aside even for patrol cars.

Nampa Police Chief: No Increase in Crime

So was my morning surprise indicative of a larger trend -- a downward spiral of brazen gang activity that has returned? Are recent reductions in police resources to blame?

In his column, Gang-related crime isn’t increasing in Nampa, Kingsbury goes on to offer an answer: "However, incidents such as these are not the result of Nampa’s police budget cuts. These events occurred because of the choices that the offenders made."

He cites several official police statistics to prove his point.

Nampa Police: Today's Tag "does not appear to be gang graffiti"

The graffiti is on the public building facing 4th Street and says “Vandal” and “Tax this.” Officers responded to the call of vandalism this morning said Sgt. Joe Ramirez.

“It doesn’t appear to be gang graffiti,” Ramirez said. “More of a political statement.”

While the tag was painted on a public building, that doesn’t particularly surprise Nampa officers. It’s actually painted over covered-up graffiti, Ramirez said.

“The area that it’s on is on the backside of the building so it’s less traveled,” he said.

According to Idaho Code, a charge of misdemeanor vandalism could result in a sentence of a year in jail plus a $1,000 fine.

Det. Tom Gerdes, Nampa Police Crime Prevention Coordinator Phone: (208) 468-5617
Det. Tom Gerdes, Nampa Police Crime Prevention Coordinator Phone: (208) 468-5617 | Source

Community Watch

It was comforting to know that the graffiti appears to be the work of random criminals. And the conclusion that gang activity and crime are not on the rise is one that I can live with for now.

If you have information on a crime or witnessed a crime, call Crime Stoppers, you may earn a reward up to $1,000 for information solving a major crime.

Fight Back! Be a Crime Stopper, call:
(208) 343-COPS (208-343-2677)

For more information log on to:
Crime Stoppers of Southwest Idaho

You may also contact Nampa Police Department directly.

Emergency: 911
Non Emergency: (208) 465-2257
Administration: (208) 468-5661
Animal Control: (208) 465-2257
Persons Crimes: (208) 475-5724
Property Crimes: (208) 468-5680
Records: (208) 468-5678

Regardless of any disagreements about crime rates, it is always true that an active community watch and efforts of concerned citizens reduce crime levels and help keep them down.

Are you ready to do your part?

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