An injunction’s price tag
By Wendy Thomas Russell
Saturday, November 15, 2003 – Nailing down the cost of an injunction is apparently as problematic as deciphering crime statistics.
Because so few arrests have been made based solely on gang injunctions, the cost of enforcement seems negligible. But plenty of work goes into researching and writing the injunctions in the first place.
Dozens of gang detectives and patrol officers produce statements about their encounters with known gang members, to be used as declarations in court. They must compile enough data through personal observations and criminal convictions to prove in court that each person is a member of a gang.
Then, prosecutors must take the declarations and do their own research. They write the injunction, make court appearances, and prosecute those arrested for violating the injunction.
Long Beach Police Cmdr. William Blair said he could not estimate the costs from the police department’s standpoint because his officers have spent varying amounts of time writing the declarations. Similarly, Long Beach City Prosecutor Tom Reeves, whose office implemented the last two Long Beach injunctions, said he has trouble estimating costs because he doesn’t track how many hours he or his deputies spend drafting each injunction.
When pressed, however, Reeves estimated that he has spent about 200 hours working on the injunctions himself, and that Deputy City Prosecutor Dan Murphy has spent about half that time.
“It’s impossible to really come up with any sort of estimate that’s accurate,’ Reeves added. “It’s not like I spent a week, Monday through Friday, working on this. It’s sporadic.’
In a letter to the Press-Telegram, Reeves accounted for a $95,000 county grant he received from Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe three years ago. Of the grant money, $43,450 went to the East Side Longos injunction to pay for law clerks’ salaries, overhead expenses and outside legal services, among other things; $32,000 went to the Insane Crips injunction for similar costs; and the remaining $20,000 is being used to draw up the city’s latest injunction against members of the West Side Longos.
Injunctions, Reeves said, have become less expensive over time because of the learning curve involved, but he acknowledged that the latest injunction would take some money out of his budget.
“Of course, because we have less grant funds available, we will spend slightly more city funds on this injunction, but I expect we will spend less than $10,000 of city funds.’
The $10,000 will be in salaries, Reeves’ spokesman, Noel Hacegaba, said.
In the letter, Reeves indicated that he did not figure his own salary into the cost of the first two injunctions because he worked on those primarily during evenings and weekends.
“About the only normal business hours I spent on this injunction were three brief court appearances (and) telephone conferences…’ he stated. “The bulk of my actual work on the injunction, however, was after hours and on weekends.’