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L.A. unveils new anti-gang initiatives

January 29, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
L.A. city leaders and police have unveiled a set of new anti-gang initiatives, proposals they say could serve as a blueprint for the rest of the country. The emphasis is on intervention as well as enforcement.Gang crime in Los Angeles is down 11 percent from two years ago. But city leaders and law enforcement want a 15-percent drop this year. That means curtailing the activity of L.A.'s 41,000 gang members.

"If they want to stick their necks up, well, basically we're going to be there to basically take notice and we'll very effectively take it off," said LAPD Chief William Bratton.

The LAPD has a new nighttime commander to focus on gang crimes as they happen. Four-hundred officers will be trained to better understand gang culture and trends and police will identify the cars gang members drive and use to commit crimes.

"We will be attempting to stop them and, where we can with the city attorney's initiatives, seize them," said Chief Bratton. "We will be coming at them for their cars, we will be coming after them for their profit center, for their narcotics."

The city will also expand its Summer Night Lights Program from eight to 15 parks. The lights will stay on to deter gang members from gathering and committing crimes.

The city will continue intervention programs and work with groups such as Advocates for Peace and Urban Unity to keep kids from joining gangs.

"As long as we're working, like they say, on hand with grassroots organizations that can get in there and get to the trenches and get to the youngsters before they put their hand on them triggers, I think that's what we're going to win -- that's where we're going to save a lot of lives," said Eric Hall, Advocates for Peace and Urban Unity..

L.A.'s Community Development Department will also hire some convicted felons and former gang members. The hope is that giving a second chance will keep them from turning to a life of crime.

"You get to realize your responsibilities," said Tramel Jones, Advocates for Peace and Urban Unity. "You know, it's all a growing process. So this is a part of my growth, being a part of my community, trying to save a life."

Mayor Villaraigosa and the LAPD hope these efforts will make Los Angeles a role model for other big cities.


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