Can Police, Jails Handle L.A.’s Anti-Gang Campaign?


The proposed plan to attack Los Angeles gang crime seems straightforward enough: increase police presence, broaden gang injunctions, start issuing “stay away” orders for hot spots, and target the city’s top 10 havoc-wreaking gangs, the Los Angeles Times reports. Still, there are significant questions about whether the police personnel, jail beds and gang intervention programs exist to back up the effort, prompted by a 14 percent increase in gang-related crime.

The Los Angeles Police Department fell 300 officers short of its hiring goal last year.”That is the big question: Where will we get the officers?” said Deputy Chief Charlie Beck. “We are inevitably robbing Peter to pay Paul.” Officials say patrol officers will be directed to take a more active role in gang suppression and intelligence gathering, expanding responsibility for duties traditionally handled by gang units. Another issue is what will happen to gang members after they are sentenced and enter the overcrowded county jail system. The county jails have released more than 200,000 inmates early, most serving just 10 percent of their time, since mid-2002, when Sheriff Lee Baca stopped using thousands of jail beds amid budget shortfalls. Inmates convicted under gang injunctions have been kept for their entire sentences. That policy is set to end soon. Instead of doing all their time, gang-injunction convicts will be let go after serving 25 percent of their terms in an across-the-board release policy that will govern all inmates.


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