Modesto officials are investigating whether the city should try to curb gang activity by using court orders that bar suspected gang members from associating with each other.
Cities throughout California have used the orders, known as gang injunctions, to target specific gangs that have menaced residents for years.
Fresno used them in 2004 to hinder the Parkside Bulldogs; San Francisco adopted them in 2006 to crack down on the Oakdale Mob.
It's not clear whether Modesto would be able to get the same results, or succeed in persuading a judge to grant an injunction.
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That depends on the case Modesto police build against the city's gangs, Mayor Jim Ridenour said.
"We have to use all the legal tools we can to get rid of these people," Ridenour said. "I want them out of Modesto."
Assistant Police Chief Mike Harden on Wednesday said the city attorney's office, city manager's office and Police Department formed a committee to study gang injunctions.
The move follows high-profile shootings in west and south Modesto and the airport neighborhood over the past 17 days. Three of them have been fatal and three other people have been wounded, including a 22-month-old toddler.
Generally, the injunctions name certain members of a gang and prohibit them from associating with each other, wearing gang colors or violating a curfew. Officers can arrest people named in the injunctions for breaking the rules.
"It's not designed to limit (the suspected gang members') ability to go to work, but it is designed to limit their activity in a criminal street gang," Harden said.
Other questions that would have to be sorted out if Modesto follows through with gang injunctions include where they would be in effect, which gangs would be targeted and for how long.
"It's going to take some time," Harden said.
Gang injunctions have a well-studied record in the state since Los Angeles started using them in the 1980s.
A 2005 study by three Southern California University professors concluded that gang injunctions can reduce fear and improve short-term conditions in neighborhoods.
The American Civil Liberties Union has raised questions about the effectiveness of gang injunctions, and about how people become listed on or removed from a gang injunction.
Ridenour, meanwhile, is reviving talks he has had for several years that center on getting more gang education programs to parents through schools.
"We're going to start hitting the schools again with the parents so they know what the kids are doing," Ridenour said.
Bee staff writer Adam Ashton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2366.