Mission Division’s Operation Ceasefire takes aim at gang gun violence

Kelly Goff (Los Angeles Daily News) | October 06, 2013

Sixteen known gang members sat politely in a conference room at the San Fernando Mission Cemetery one night last week, listening to, among others, a police captain, a deputy district attorney, a pastor and a shooting victim.

All had the same message: Stop shooting.

The meeting was part of Operation Ceasefire, a five-year pilot program at the Los Angeles Police Department’s Mission Division started in 2011 and targeted at lowering gang violence in the northeast San Fernando Valley.

Gang members on parole are “invited” — with the threat of a parole violation if they fail to attend — to community meetings to hear the ways law enforcement is cracking down on their gangs and meet community members and programs that can help them leave gang life behind.

“What we’re saying to them is that we know they have a propensity toward violence, or to be hurt by violence, and we’re not putting up with it,” said Capt. Todd Chamberlain, who heads the division.

The parolees are then asked to take the message back to their gangs.

“Consider this a gift,” Karl Cruz, a senior pastor at Victory Outreach in Sylmar, told the group, recounting how he himself left a gang more than 20 years ago — and changed his life forever. “In my time, they were just locking people up, not trying to help them.”

Part shock and awe, part outreach, the program is modeled on dozens of similar operations around the country. It is the second attempt at this type of program in Los Angeles. The first was launched at the Hollenbeck Division in the 1990s and didn’t bring in anti-gang efforts such as job placement and tattoo removal,

Advocates say this latest version is working precisely because of those service components. “I won’t get a lot of response at the meetings,” said Christian Diance, who works at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center’s tattoo removal program. “But I hand out the information to their mothers, aunts, girlfriends and others who attend with them, then a few days later, we start getting phone calls.”

There’s even talk of rolling out the program to other LAPD divisions.

Some two and a half years into the program, however, results are mixed.

Read more at: http://www.dailynews.com/general-news/20131006/mission-divisions-operation-ceasefire-takes-aim-at-gang-gun-violence

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