The Santa Rosa Police Department formed a gang investigation unit back in the late 1980s. Two officers were assigned to Violent Crime Investigations (VCI) for support in tracking and validating gang members. These two officers served as support for the detectives who at that time were investigating all major felony crimes including gang related crimes. These officers were assigned to document and track gang activity without any "proactive" enforcement.
Increase in Violent Gang Activity
In the early 1990s, Santa Rosa as well as Sonoma County started to see an increase in violent gang related activity. The Chief of Police at that time realized the problem would no doubt escalate if not addressed. During this period the department formed a gang unit comprised of two full-time police officers to investigate gang related crime. These two officers split their time between street enforcement and investigative duties. In 1996, one additional officer was added bringing the number of Gang Crime detectives to three. This team was the only full-time gang investigative section north of San Francisco.
Dissolution & Reconstitution
In 2006, after the Gang Team was broken up due to budget and staffing shortages, the Santa Rosa Police Department reconstituted its anti-gang efforts. The department formed the Gang Crime Investigations Team, now called the Gang Crimes Team. One of the detectives is assigned to the North Bay Regional Gang Task Force, an FBI led effort to conduct pro-active long term investigations targeting criminal organizations.