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'Save Our Streets' task force looks to solve South LA murders

July 6, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
A homicide task force made up of Los Angeles police and FBI agents is looking to solve as many unsolved murders as possible in South Los Angeles over the next three months.

This is the second year the agencies have partnered in operation "Save Our Streets." The task force solved 27 homicide cases and netted 20 arrests in 2010.

As the son of a murdered father, I know that there is nothing more valuable than being able to share time with a victim's family, and be able to say, 'case clear,'" said Robert Clark, FBI assistant special agent in charge.

Lawanda Hawkins' only child and only sister were murdered. Both cases remain unsolved.

"There's not a day that you wake up and you don't think about it," she said. "There's not a night that you don't go to bed praying that you see him.

By founding Justice for Murdered Children, Hawkins has taken upon herself to look for their killers.

"There are thousands of these cases that remain unsolved - thousands," she said. "Do you know how many murders that means they're walking our streets? This is unacceptable. It wouldn't be allowed to happen in any other community and I don't know why they're allowing it to happen in ours."

Half the homicides in the Los Angeles metropolitan area are in South Los Angeles. By July 2010, the number of homicides was 57. This year, that number has spiked to 68. Seventy percent of this year's murders are gang related.

"If you're thinking about 68 crimes in an area that's 66 square miles, that's awful, and that is unacceptable in any neighborhood," said Patrick Gannon, deputy chief of the Los Angeles Police Department's south bureau.

"We have seen an increase in the number of parolees that have been released from prison, and that does create problems within the gangs, as they come out and try to reassert themselves," Gannon said.

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