Anti-gang plans need state funds
Connie Rice, a civil-rights attorney who studied the city’s existing gang programs, said she wants to see more details of the mayor’s plan. “CLEAR is an excellent suppression program, but the question is, Are we just building on that? If it’s just a CLEAR-plus program, it will not work,” she said. Rice said she had recommended the city look at existing programs to see which are working, and assess the needs of every neighborhood where gangs are a problem. “As with everything, the devil will be in the details,” Rice said. As part of his effort, Villaraigosa has said City Controller Laura Chick will audit the city’s gang programs. He also plans to hire an anti-gang coordinator to work out of the Mayor’s Office. Villaraigosa said candidates are being interviewed and he hopes to announce an appointment within two weeks. “Whoever is named will have some tricky political issues to deal with,” said Police Chief William Bratton. “Every gang initiative out there has a sponsor, whether it’s a council member, a member of the state Assembly or someone else. “The new director will have to evaluate the existing programs and develop new ones. It will not be easy.” Rice agreed with Bratton and noted a range of challenges. “It has to be someone who has the independence and the power to command respect and freedom and power. It will need to be someone who can call up the DWP (Department of Water and Power) and get lighting for a midnight soccer game. Who can call the schools superintendent and get a meeting immediately. “Someone who can make the calls without having to go through two ad hoc committees and four deputy mayors before he calls the police chief.” Councilman Tony Cardenas, who chairs the council’s ad hoc Committee on Gangs, said he plans to extensively review the mayor’s plan but believes it complements the work his panel has done. “I know people are impatient to see something done immediately, but I would rather have us take our time and do it right,” Cardenas said. [email protected] (213) 978-0390160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! “Gang violence is the most important challenge facing the city and the state,” Villaraigosa said Thursday in releasing his proposed spending plan along with some details of the anti-gang program. “We need to take an aggressive path with the Police Department on the one hand, and the programs on the other, to solve this problem.” Much of the funding would be spread across 19 city departments for a variety of programs, most focused on creating jobs. “This is the most significant investment the city has ever made in fighting gangs,” Villaraigosa said. “I wish it could be more, but we have other issues we have to deal with, as well.” To go beyond that, however, Villaraigosa has called for the state to inject $30 million into Los Angeles’ efforts. A wide-ranging anti-gang strategy envisioned by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa relies heavily on the promise of state and local funding as it seeks to build on many established programs. As part of the city budget proposed for 2007-08, Villaraigosa has allocated $168 million for programs aimed at gang prevention, intervention and enforcement, up about 10 percent from last year. His focus is reducing gang “hot spots,” including four – in the Los Angeles Police Department’s Foothill, Northeast, Newton and South L.A. divisions – where a Community Law Enforcement and Recovery program already is operating. Officials expect to identify four more zones where suppression efforts will be joined with prevention and intervention programs involving schools, parks, libraries and police.