Extra deputies required for hundreds of motorcyclists rolling into town.
Several dozen deputies from Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station were called in Sunday to address a growing concern in the community regarding suspected outlaw motorcycle gangs congregating at local establishments.
The deputies were needed, as an estimated 300 suspected gang members, believed to be associated with the Vagos outlaw motorcycle gang, roared into the area Sunday morning generating calls for service and criminal complaints to the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station.
Officials report that the thunderous roar of the unlawful exhaust systems on many of the motorcycles could be heard for miles around as the bikers entered and left the area. The riders stretched out for miles over Sand Canyon Road, crossing Soledad Canyon Road, ultimately congregating in the 16000 block of Sierra Highway, near Vasquez Canyon Road.
Patrol resources were stretched thin during the same time period as deputies were responding to two other emergency calls and a significant traffic collision, necessitating station leaders to call in additional personnel to avoid a serious impact on service levels.
Proactive residents expressed their complaints and concerns, reporting that the motorcyclists were at times blocking vehicle and pedestrian traffic, disturbing the public peace, and committing other unlawful acts.
Deputies from the City of Santa Clarita/Sheriff's COBRA Unit and the Community Interaction Team (CIT), and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), joined patrol and traffic control deputies in the operation, which was necessitated based on the size and scope of the gathering and the unlawful actions of some of the motorcyclists.
When the operation concluded and the gathering disbanded, deputies had identified more than 30 individuals, some of whom are believed to have extensive criminal history, indicative of outlaw motorcycle gang involvement. Deputies issued 24 citations for various infractions and other violations of the law.
"What concerns me is this is the second time in as many months we have seen these large disruptive groups pour into the Santa Clarita area," said Captain Anthony La Berge.
"Although the gathering itself is not unlawful, some of the actions of these individuals and the motorcycles they are riding are illegal. Not to mention the fact that they can be disruptive to the peace and serenity of the community. Our primary goal is to ensure public safety and peace in response to community complaints and concerns about these bikers. We will do whatever it takes to accomplish just that," he added.
Santa Clarita Sheriff's Station officials referenced a 2008 Orange County case in Newport Beach, where a bar fight involving several suspected rival motorcycle gang members escalated to a stabbing. A total of eight defendants face felony charges, including possession of firearms and controlled substances, in five criminal cases stemming from that incident, according to an Orange County District Attorney Press Release.
"We do not want that to happen here in Santa Clarita," concluded Captain La Berge.