Anti-gang czar named by governor

Schwarzenegger attacks problem with coordination

LA Daily News
Article Last Updated:09/04/2007 10:11:26 PM PDT

SACRAMENTO – Amid growing concern about gang violence – including in the San Fernando Valley – Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed a former federal prosecutor Tuesday to lead new efforts to fight gangs with a coordinated statewide approach.

Paul Seave, a former U.S. attorney for the eastern district of California, was named to the post of state director of gang and youth violence policy as the governor also appointed a 10-member gang-advisory committee including two Los Angeles officials.

As part of the panel, Los Angeles Unified Superintendent David Brewer III and civil-rights attorney Connie Rice will work with Seave on policy initiatives.

“There is much that needs to be done, but I’m absolutely convinced by all of us working together for the first time in a coordinated way we’re going to really attack this problem in a successful way,” Schwarzenegger said at a press conference in Fresno.

Schwarzenegger said efforts to fight gangs should still be led at the local level, but that cities can benefit from a statewide perspective.

Along with the appointment, the governor announced $2.8 million in grants – matched by local communities for a total of $5.6 million – for job-training programs to keep potential gang members off the streets.

He also has proposed several new anti-gang programs, including rotating deployments of California Highway Patrol officers in high gang areas and new summer programs to keep kids out of gangs.

Most of his proposals were funded in the budget recently approved by the Legislature.

“Law enforcement by itself cannot solve the gang problem,” Seave said. “Any effective approach requires a comprehensive, collaborative, and sustained effort by each affected local community.”

Seave served as a U.S. attorney in the Clinton administration from 1997 to 2001. He then worked in the California state Attorney General’s Office as director of the Crime and Violence Prevention Center. Schwarzenegger appointed Seave chief counsel for the state Board of Education in 2005. Seave will start his job with a staff of three, but expects to expand it.

Los Angeles Police Department statistics indicated that gang crime in the San Fernando Valley was up about 15 percent in the first half of 2007.

Seave’s appointment was hailed by law enforcement and civil-rights advocates.

Rice, co-director of the Advancement Project Los Angeles, said Seave was an innovator when he was a prosecutor in the state Attorney General’s Office.

Rice said Seave looked for strategies beyond law enforcement to try to keep kids from joining gangs. She said he also was the rare prosecutor who proactively sought her opinion on some issues.

Brewer said Seave is an outstanding selection for the post and as an advisory committee member, he said, he intends to urge the state to focus more on prevention and intervention efforts.

“Obviously, schoolchildren in this state are the people who are recruited into gangs,” he said. “We’re going to be focused on intervention and prevention and I’m looking forward to sharing some of my ideas with him.”

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