A 62-year-old Los Angeles man whose father was killed by gang members six decades ago now helps attack the gang problem himself. The Los Angeles Times profiles Donald Garcia, who spent spent half of his life – 31 years – in prisons, jails and juvenile halls, for murder and other crimes.
Known on the streets as “Big D,” Garcia is a gang-intervention counselor. Gilbert Bautista, supervisor of the Intensive Gang Supervision Program at the Los Angeles County Probation Department, says, “He’s like that old commercial: When Big D talks, people listen.”
Garcia is now one of the Communities In Schools workers who goes out in the middle of the night when gang-related homicides often occur. The head of the Los Angeles Police Department’s San Fernando Valley gang unit believes he can play an important role in reducing gang crime. “I think guys like him can have an influence because they have so much credibility on the streets,” Lt. Gary Nanson said. “The police are good at gang prevention and gang suppression, but when it comes to gang intervention, law enforcement has zero influence because we are viewed as the enemy. Guys like [Garcia] speak from experience and, as long as they are on the up and up, are very valuable for intervention.”