Gang shootings and violence have been an issue going back for years but Cathedral City Police are seeing a drop in gang violence.
“I remember when I first started responding to shootings if you were on the weekend shift, it was going to happen,” Jeff Blachley, an officer with the Cathedral City Police gang unit, said.
Now, Blachley said he’s hardly responding to shootings anymore.
“The fact that we’re not even hearing gunshots in the air is just a testament to all the patrol and special assignments that are working really hard,” he said.
Patrolling the city means getting to know the affected communities. NBC Palm Springs drove through Dream Homes, one of the most active gang communities right now in Cathedral City. Blachley knew the residents at almost every home.
While the amount of violence has slowed down, the legalization of marijuana caused a slight spike in violence with drug dealers, he said.
“People aren’t using them as much as they used to because they’re going to the dispensaries,” he said. “We actually had a homicide that was related to marijuana. They were trying to rip off an ounce.”
Blachley said becoming a gang member is becoming generational, similar to him being born into law enforcement. That’s why he wants to cut the trend at the roots.
“I always hand them a business card, and I say if you need help getting out of the gang, anybody’s messing with you, anybody’s giving you a hard time, let me know. I always kind of put that olive branch out.”
There haven’t been any takers yet but Blachley said he’s just happy to see the improvements overall.
“I wanted to actually make an impact and being on the gang team you actually can do that.”
The Cathedral City Police Gang Unit works alongside other units in the valley. If a gang member moves, the unit follows them too.