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L.A. gets hi-tech gear for gang crackdown

January 9, 2009 10:27:55 PM PST
The city of L.A. is getting some high tech-help fighting gangs in Baldwin Village and the Crenshaw District.Target is donating a $250,000 so police can buy surveillance cameras and license-plate readers to use in the area.

Mike Howard owns an apartment building in Baldwin Hills. He says the gang problem is simply out of control.

"There needs to be a little more enforcement," said Howard. "As long as they are getting in and out of jail they know that they can come back and do the same thing."

To change that, the Los Angeles Police Department is bringing the latest high-tech equipment into the area. Target Corporation is giving a quarter-million dollars for these modern police tools.

"This area was picked because it is an area in transition," said LAPD Deputy Chief Ken Garner. "It's an area that's going to be revitalized. It is a community that is being revitalized."

The plan is to install the high-tech cameras in key locations. It's similar to cameras in MacArthur Park. There will be a license-plate reader and tracking devices. People and their activities will be recorded. London, England, has been a pioneer in this type of surveillance.

"The technology, as it advances, it becomes less expensive," said LAPD Chief William Bratton. "The quality is much better, and it is the way to go. And this will be a great help to us in this particular area."

It won't be easy. During Friday's news conference, Chief Bratton was called to a shooting a short distance away. Police say a man was shot in the head several times and it appears to be gang-related.

"I think the one thing that would help is if they could clean up some of the trash," said Baldwin Hills resident Jodie Barnett. "You got people sleeping in between these buildings right here."

Barnett says the area needs a lot of help, and he's heard of big plans like these before.

"I hate to be pessimistic, but I'll feel better when I see something," said Barnett.

"It's overwhelming for the police because there are so many gang members," said Baldwin Hills resident Margaret Cheeseboro.

LAPD officials say with the new money they'll be able to buy the new cameras right away, but it will take several weeks before they can get them into position.