Compton: Gang Task Force Reaping Success

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Compton: Gang Task Force Reaping Success

Unread post by Christina Marie » May 16th, 2006, 10:23 pm

Gang Task Force Reaping Success

Compton’s homicide rate slashed by 81 percent so far this year

By Allison Jean Eaton
Bulletin Staff Writer

Amid tables blanketed with seized weapons, law enforcement officials last Monday said the sharp drop in gang-related violence citywide is the result of a new, specialized gang task force.

The city has witnessed since Jan. 1 only five homicides as compared to this time last year, when 26 people had been murdered.

And according to L.A. County Sheriff Leroy D. Baca, it’s all due to a gang unit he launched Jan. 6 as part of his quiet deployment of 78 additional sworn deputies and specialized staff to the Compton area from unincorporated sections of the county.

The risky move — county money and resources are being used to fund the operation with the blessing of the L.A. County Board of Supervisors — was necessary, he says, to tackle 2005’s deplorable number of gang-related homicides in the city and bordering unincorporated area.

Baca coined his move a “calculated risk.”

A total of 71 people lost their lives last year to gang violence, the highest number the city has seen in a decade. According to Baca, the murder rate was up 41 percent from 2004, when there were 42 murders, 28 percent from 2003, which saw 51 murders, and 37 percent from 2002, when 45 murders were committed.

“When we studied this alarming trend, we saw that our traditional methods of controlling gang-related crime were not as effective as they have been in the past,” Baca said during his announcement at the Compton Station. “We needed a new approach.”

The nearly11-square-mile city of Compton is home to more than 55 active gangs, said Compton Service Area Lt. Joe Gooden. The Compton Station Area Violent Gang Task Force has specifically been targeting the most active of those 55-plus gangs.

And the results, so far, are impressive. A total of 819 gang members have been arrested in the past four months, 430 on felony charges and 389 on misdemeanors. Those arrested, however, only represent 11 percent of the city’s 6,214 identified gang members — sadly a small dent.

The arrests have contributed to 276 guns being taken off the streets since January, although Baca admitted there are probably at least 10 times as many still out there. Gooden said that in combination with the station’s Guns for Gifts drive in December, which yielded 610 guns, the number of firearms confiscated from the Compton area is more along the lines of 900.

A total of 10,000 to 12,000 guns are burned annually by the Los Angeles Police and Sheriff’s departments.

“It is an unacceptable thing to have to think that you need a gun to live in the great city of Compton,” Baca continued. “Guns are not the solution here, police are the solution — more police, more cops, and this tangibly shows that.”

Chief Ronnie Williams, who oversees a number of sheriff’s stations including Compton’s, said he’s noticed marked increase in residents’ sense of security.

“If you come into Compton now in the late afternoon or evening, you’ll see people walking their dogs, walking the streets, outside talking to their neighbors just like any other community.”

Asked if the crackdown has lead to an increase in homicide rates in communities surrounding the city — it is well-known that there are no boundaries when it comes to gang activity — the sheriff couldn’t provide a direct answer.

When gang members feel the heat in one area they tend to move somewhere else where they can conduct their illegal activities more freely. Though there is no clear way to draw a correlation, the city of Inglewood has seen a spike in its murder rate with 17 homicides this year.

Richard L. Castro, chief of the Detective Division and head of the task force, described the work his team is doing as “a redeployment of sheriff’s department personnel and resources ... necessary to intervene in the area’s gang activity.”

“Our goal was to reduce the violence which specifically led to a sudden rise in the rate of murders, attempted murders and felonious assaults,” said Castro. “We wanted to reduce these particular crimes by at least 40 percent.”

And according to the numbers, those expectations have been exceeded. The murder rate in the city of Compton has been slashed by 81 percent. The number of shootings into inhabited dwellings has dropped 77 percent, assaults with a firearm are down 52 percent and attempted murder/life threatening assaults have been cut by 21 percent.

Brandishing an AK-47 seized during a recent task force investigation, Baca spoke of three Latino gang members arrested in connection with four Compton murders forensically traced to the weapon.

The men in custody — Jose Toledo, 21, David Guerrero, 25, and Joe Enciso, 30 — are all members of a notorious Latino street gang, Baca said. And their four alleged victims were all black.

“It is clearly a racial war in addition to a gang war,” Baca said holding up the automatic weapon. “This is unacceptable.”

Saving the Next Generation
National, state and county agencies have also been pitching in on this violent, gang-related crime crack-down.

Baca described the county Department of Children and Family Services as “an important partner in how we deal with these arrests in terms of gang members that have children in their homes and yet they’re involved in some very vicious crimes.”

Emelio Mendoza of Children and Family Services said the Sheriff’s Department enlisted his agency to create a multi-agency response team.

“This team was assembled and specially trained to rescue children from very horrendous situations. The primary focus was to rescue children from gang and narcotic homes where weapons and narcotics were accessible,” Mendoza said.

From January 2004 through the end of 2005 the team rescued 2,500 children from such homes. Since January of this year, it has intervened and investigated 19 families in connection with 17 specialized operations and rescued 39 children.

“Our department is not only about rescuing kids and removal, but ...we hope to have an impact on stopping the generational enrollment in gang membership or any other type of criminal activity.”

Other participating agencies include the U.S. Marshall’s office; U.S. Department of Justice; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; state parole office; and county probation department.

City Councilman Isadore Hall III said he’s pleased with the aggressive eradication of “frivolous crime that has taken our community hostage.”

“I can honestly say that Compton is a better place to live and to raise a family because of the collective efforts of the Sheriff’s Department and the other agencies that are participating in this great task,” Hall said.

“There is a direct correlation with the reduction of crime and the economic vitality of our community. Housing developments have gone up, the value of our homes has gone up and economic development is taking place in our community more now today than before.”

And residents are standing up, crossing the historic divide between the public and law enforcement agencies and taking back their community.

Capt. Eric Hamilton, who runs the Compton Station, said he’s seen a marked increase in the community’s willingness to assist the department. “This year I have really seen a difference” in the number of citizens calling in with tips and to report crimes,” Hamilton said.
The anonymous tip hotline is (888) COMPTON.

Following his address, the sheriff told several reporters that this has been the most effective gang sweep he’s ever heard of. “It’s the greatest success rate I’ve seen in my 41-year career.”

The Sheriff’s Department has been providing law enforcement services to the city since 2001, when the Compton Police Department was disbanded amid allegations of corruption. The city pays $14 million annually for 78 sworn deputies.

Baca is up for re-election in the June 6 primary election. ... index.html

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Unread post by Maniac » May 18th, 2006, 12:45 am

Police are still ignorant to think they can wipe it out completely and Compton is still a dangerous place and so many gangs.

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Unread post by Guage12 » May 18th, 2006, 1:37 am

ay homie are you from compton? cause i think yo location says austria

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Unread post by Guage12 » May 18th, 2006, 1:42 am

:lol: these out of country people is sooooo infatuated with gang would you know anything about compton being dangerous your a white boy in australia :lol: :lol:


Unread post by UmanH-ay » June 4th, 2006, 6:32 pm

hes just bein general with what he sayin, he speakin on the hood

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