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L.A. Co. Sheriff's Dept. launches surge

October 23, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
A law enforcement "surge" operation is being carried out by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department four nights a week to combat gang activity.The surge was under way in Athens Friday night.

This is the mobile command post here behind me... The sheriff's department is essentially able establish a mobile substation inside neighborhoods where gang activity is heating up.

At the nerve center for the gang enforcement team, the sheriff's department says this effort has already made a huge difference in some of L.A. County's most troubled neighborhoods.

First they talk strategy. The sheriff's deputies have just gotten word that a large group of gang members are gathering. The deputies form a plan, then more than two dozen deputies swarm into an Athens neighborhood.

It's exactly how the gang enforcement team is designed to work, a surge of law enforcement in order to combat gang activity.

"It kind of gives them a sense of 'a cop on every corner,'" said Sgt. John Hanson, a member of the sheriff's department. "And for that period of time that we're there, it's not unusual for us to get 10 or 12 people coming up to say, 'Hey, I appreciate you guys being here. Can you stick around for a while?'"

Hanson says the so-called "get team" has been around for 15 years. But since February, the 40 deputies and five sergeants now work under one lieutenant in a platoon formation. They operate Wednesday through Saturday, hitting the streets of L.A. County in hopes of saturating neighborhoods where gang activity is spiking.

"Instead of taking time to draw up a plan and bringing resources together that might take two or three weeks, we can deploy that night," said Hanson.

The deputies in the enforcement unit are handpicked from the station from gang areas. They work alongside members of the Probation Department.

Inside the command post, crime analysts are working to map out the areas the team will target.

"Gang saturation is very specific," said L.A. County Sheriff's Lieutenant Crystal Miranda. "We focus on the gangs. The deputies in this enforcement unit are from the actual stations that we patrol."

Friday night, the team responded to a car-to-car shooting, a stabbing and parole violations. Relatively speaking, a quiet Friday night.

Saturday night, the team will be in Bellflower.


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