Multipronged approach stressed at gang summit

Los Angeles Daily News

Multipronged approach stressed at gang summit

By Beth Barrett
Staff Writer

Friday, July 16, 2004 – LAPD Chief William Bratton and other national experts said Friday that a combination of officers, police, better intervention and prevention programs, and community involvement will characterize the next generation in the battle against gangs.

“We focused on getting it right — getting it right as it relates to dealing with the issue of gang violence: suppression, intervention and prevention,” Bratton said at the conclusion of the two-day Executive Session on Gangs, held at the University of Southern California.

“It will go a long way in this city … in trying to make Los Angeles the safest largest city in the country.”

The summit, attended by experts from nine cities, was the second held in Los Angeles — the birthplace of many gangs that have spread throughout the nation, and which have continued to commit violent crimes and homicides at higher rates, even as other violent crime has declined.

Frank Hartmann, from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and the summit’s moderator, said the experts — including police officials, academics and representatives from gang intervention groups — underscored there are strategies that work.

He noted that the gang experts shared “an atmosphere of hope” for fighting gang violence.

“While this is an issue that needs control, it is not out of control totally,” Hartmann said.

Bratton said the key to reducing gang activity in Los Angeles is hiring more officers. The city has just 9,304 sworn officers, and a pending referendum that would increase the sales tax by one-half percent to beef up law enforcement and other public-safety services would be critical in remedying that, he said.

Mayor James Hahn said street gangs in Los Angeles are part of a national problem, and that collaboration coupled with local determination are required to make the community safer.

“The problem started here; we need to fix it here,” Hahn said at the press conference.

He said through a combination of strategies, including policing, after-school programs and other interventions the city would strive to “have the gangs die of attribution.”

“The will is here, finally,” Hahn said. “We’re going to win this struggle.”

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