Pubdate: Wed, 10 Jan 2007
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2007 Los Angeles Times
Authors: Patrick McGreevy and Richard Winton, Times Staff Writers
Bookmark: (Crime Policy - United States)


The City Will Focus on the Worst Ones Regardless of Size and Use 
'Stay-Away' Orders Against Leaders.

Los Angeles' top law enforcement officials have agreed on a new 
attack on gang violence, one that focuses more enforcement on smaller 
neighborhood gangs and uses a new legal tool tried last year on skid row.

The effort comes as L.A. officials are trying to quell a 14% increase 
in gang-related crime during the last year, marked by several 
high-profile incidents of race-motivated violence.

LAPD Chief William J. Bratton met this week with Dist. Atty. Steve 
Cooley and representatives of City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo to begin 
formulating the plan.

Bratton announced Tuesday that his department is developing a "Top 
10" list of gangs to target based on a complex formula -- and then 
the three agencies will devote additional officers and attorneys 
specifically to those gangs.

The campaign will include targeting the leaders and headquarters of 
the worst gangs.

Police have identified 720 street gangs in Los Angeles, with 39,315 
members. But officials said a small number of them are causing a 
disproportionate amount of crime in the hardest-hit neighborhoods.

The new strategy is something of a shift for law enforcement 
officials, who have until now focused much attention on larger gangs 
that run drug rings and other criminal enterprises.

Bratton told the Police Commission that his office will identify "the 
most prolific gangs in the city, the top 10, if you will.

"We will be using a matrix that encompasses violent crime committed 
by the gangs, interracial crime, assaults on police officers," 
Bratton said. "That's how we will winnow the hundreds of gangs in the 
city down to those that we will focus most of our attention on."

Deputy Police Chief Charlie Beck, the commanding officer of the South 
Bureau, said the matrix will give extra weight to certain kinds of 
activity, such as race-based attacks.

As a result, the 204th Street gang in the Harbor Gateway will 
probably make the top 10 list even though it has committed fewer 
crimes than much larger gangs, Beck said.

Police have accused members of that Latino gang of the racially 
motivated killing of a 14-year-old African American girl.

The LAPD has already deployed an extra 18 officers to the 
neighborhood, and Beck said the number could double once 204th Street 
is included in the top 10 list.

Another gang likely to be considered for the list is Canoga Park 
Alabama, a relatively small gang that police say is responsible for a 
disproportionate amount of violence in the Valley, where gang crime 
was up nearly 40%.

Jeff Isaacs, chief of criminal prosecutions for the city attorney's 
office, agreed that the new strategies on gangs are going to 
particularly target areas that haven't been traditional gang 
strongholds: Harbor Gateway and parts of the San Fernando Valley 
where gang crime climbed at a higher rate than in the more infamous 
gang territories.

"The San Fernando Valley has seen a real spike in gang crime," Cooley said.

Prosecutors also plan to use "stay-away orders" against gang leaders. 
Such orders are included in the terms of offenders' probation and 
forbid them from being in a certain neighborhood. Officials hope 
these orders will be more effective than traditional gang 
injunctions, which prohibit gang members from congregating.

Stay-away orders, which were employed against drug users on skid row, 
can be easier to enforce, because they are a condition of probation 
and a violation can immediately put the offender back in jail. And, 
under a new early-release policy set to be implemented soon, the Los 
Angeles County sheriff will no longer hold inmates sentenced to 
County Jail under gang injunctions for their entire sentences.

In addition to prosecutors targeting leaders of the selected gangs 
with court orders, Delgadillo said his office plans to file nuisance 
abatement lawsuits to target gang headquarters.

"We are going to go after the top 10 hangouts in the city of Los 
Angeles," he said. "Gangs -- like other enterprises -- need a place to plan."

He said his office successfully used this tactic on an apartment 
complex at 69th and Main streets, which he said was home to the East 
Coast Crips gang.

The situation in Harbor Gateway may end up being a model for the new effort.

Bratton said he has put Beck in charge of a working group to address 
the problems in the Harbor Gateway area, where some African American 
residents said Latino gangs do not allow them onto certain streets.

He said the new strategy will include the use of gang injunctions 
ordering gang members not to loiter or congregate in the area, as 
well as stay-away orders aimed at gang leaders who have been 
convicted of crimes.

"There are no injunctions in that area," Beck said.

Cooley said he's ready to seek the stay-away orders.

African American community activist Morris Griffin attended the 
Police Commission meeting Tuesday to call for action to stop the 
racial violence, including the installation of surveillance cameras 
on street corners where crime is occurring.

"I'm a strong advocate for cameras on the streets, to take back our 
streets, because of this terrorist act with people chasing our people 
out of the neighborhood, when you talk about the black and the 
brown," Griffin told the panel.



Top law enforcement officials have vowed to crack down on gangs this year.

What are gang injunctions?

These are court orders that prevent gang members from congregating. 
The orders have been used for years by law enforcement agencies in 
efforts to prevent gang members from gathering and committing crimes.

How effective are the injunctions?

Local and federal officials said some injunctions have contributed to 
a reduction in gang activity, usually when they are part of a larger 
crackdown that might involve increased police patrols and undercover 
stings. But some critics say the injunctions sweep up people who are 
not active gang members.

What are the "stay-away orders" now being discussed?

These are orders attached to an individual's terms of probation. The 
orders prevent an individual from being in certain neighborhoods. 
Officials have used these orders with drug users who were arrested on 
skid row, preventing them from returning.

What is the record with these orders?

Officials believe the effort will be effective on skid row, though no 
numbers are available. The orders could be easier to enforce than the 
injunctions because they are a condition of probation and violation 
can put an offender back in jail immediately.

What else are officials considering?

The city attorney's office plans to target leaders of the selected 
gangs with nuisance abatement lawsuits. Officials said the office 
successfully used this tactic on the hangout of the East Coast Crips 
in South Los Angeles. 
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