COMPTON: Rise in Homicides Draws Angry Crowd

COMPTON: Rise in Homicides Draws Angry Crowd
By: Cynthia E. Griffin
WAVE Community Newspapers
Originally posted 8/21/2002

COMPTON . A rise in homicides in the city drew an angry crowd to a town hall meeting Monday night at Gonzalez Park here.

The meeting was hosted by Central Recovery and Development Project (CRDP), and drew politicians, gang intervention experts as well as more than 30 residents from the city and two unincorporated communities bordering Compton . Rosewood and Willowbrook.

Rosewood residents were particularly frustrated that their repeated calls to the Sherriff’s Department about an apparent drug house had not yielded any results.

City residents officials at the Compton Sheriff.s Station about whether a recent $1.2 million cut in the station’s budget by the City Council for fiscal year 2002-2003 had left them short-staffed and underfunded.

.The issue is that seniors in Rosewood don’t feel safe watering their lawn in the daylight and they need to know the facts,. said Lt. Shaun Mathers of the Compton station. He stressed that despite a recent rash of shootings in Compton, major crimes . including murder, rape, burglary, arson and robbery . were down.

But those attending the meeting weren’t satisfied with a statistical run down. They wanted action.

.The reason for this meeting is not to put the [Sheriff.s Department] on the defensive, but to figure out how our babies can be safe on the streets, and our seniors can feel like they can walk to the store safely,. said Compton school board President Isadore Hall.

The short-term solution to this problem is more community involvement, said Sgt. Joe Stevens, the community relations officers at the Compton Sheriff’s Station, echoing an earlier statement by Mayor Eric Perrodin about the high level of apathy in the city.

.We need to meet more often. You need to have a neighborhood watch, and if you have one, it needs to be more active. You need to drop a dime, and get more involved,. Stevens told the audience.

His comments also echoed those of Capt. Cecil Rhambo, commander of the Compton Sheriff.s Station, who didn’t attend the Monday meeting but talked to the Wave earlier about the rash of shootings and killings plaguing the city.

.The real answer is that everyone in the community has to be on the same page and headed towards the same mission and goal . to make Compton crime free and business friendly,. said Rhambo.

.The community needs to understand their role in this whole thing. I don’t think they understand or are particularly interested in helping law enforcement. … They would rather go out and commit a retaliatory homicide and make things worse,. said Rhambo.

Compton has between 50 and 53 gangs encompassing 6,000 to 8,000 members, added the captain.
.With that many gangs, all it takes is one or two people involved in gang activity to ruin a two- to three-block area,. said Rhambo, whose response to the upsurge in violence is to have an extra deployment of deputies out, and ask for additional resources from the Sherriff’s gang unit.

Rhambo said he can’t put his finger on why the increase in shootings, but said the last three shootings were apparent domestic disputes and not gang-related at all.

Ed Turley, director and co-founded of CRDP, a gang intervention and mediation program contracted to work in the county areas of the second supervisiorial district, said the gang violence is particularly acute among African-American and Latino males ages 15 to 30, and he attributes the increasing violence to a changing of the guard within gangs.

.Now you’re having gang activity from kids as early as ages 12, 13 and 14, now OGs (original gangsters) are in their early 20s. They used to be in their 30s.

.The type of killing they’re doing now is more violent. Instead of drive-bys, they’re walking up and shooting people execution style. It gives them more status; it’s more direct and done with more intent and more hatred,. said Turley.

Ideally, Rhambo, said he would like a budget of $20 to $30 million for a couple years to help level off the crime.

While this is not something that will happen in the near future, participants in the town hall plan to meet again on Aug. 29 at 6 p.m. at the Compton Unified School Board office to look at specific strategies that can reduce the violence.

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