L.A. police panel backs anti-gang plan

By Patrick McGreevy
Times Staff Writer

April 25, 2007

The mayor’s gang reduction plan won support Tuesday from the Los Angeles Police Commission, but members also called for a swift evaluation of city-funded prevention programs to weed out those that are not working.

The panel was briefed on the plan, announced last week by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, to flood eight neighborhoods with police officers and workers who would offer social services and jobs as well as gang prevention and intervention help.

“This is a significant step in the right direction in terms of the comprehensive approach, a recognition that if we are going to be successful long term in significantly reducing gang violence, there has to be a focus, not just on suppression,” said John Mack, president of the civilian commission. “Prevention and intervention is extremely important.”

However, Mack and Commissioners Shelley Freeman and Andrea Sheridan Ordin urged Deputy Mayor Arif Alikhan to act quickly to review the effectiveness of programs aimed at keeping young people out of gangs and getting those who have joined to quit.

“Some of them work and some of them don’t work,” said Freeman, a Wells Fargo Bank regional president. “It’s frustrating, as a citizen and as a police commissioner, that there is a tremendous amount of energy and effort being expended and frankly with not great results because we have a gang problem that is as bad as it can be.”

Alikhan said that an evaluation of anti-gang services is planned but that it won’t be complete for several months.

Replacing programs that don’t work will take time because the mayor wants the evaluation to be overseen by a gang reduction director who has not yet been hired. Time also will be needed to request and review new proposals.

With promises having been made in the past to evaluate and weed out ineffective programs, commissioners pressed Alikhan to move quickly on the issue.

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