The resurgence of murder in Los Angeles this year could serve as a cautionary tale for Chicago, reports the Chicago Tribune. After adopting a similar policing strategy, Chicago is seeing the kind of drop in violence this year that Los Angeles saw last year. Now, Chicago police officials are watching L.A. and are wary that there could be a rebound in killing in 2005. Both cities’ violence problems are driven by deeply entrenched street gangs, and Los Angeles’ increase in murders this year was sparked by bloody gang conflicts–mostly in neighborhoods already receiving heavy police attention. Experts and police say the rise in Los Angeles violence underlies a harsh reality: neither city will quiet its decades-long culture of gang violence through arrests and prosecutions.
“We can’t police our way out of the gang problem, it ain’t going to happen,” said Wes McBride, a former Los Angeles County gang investigator who heads an organization that consults with police departments about gangs. “Kids are recruited by drugs. The money makes them stay until they get busted. They get tattoos and then they’re in for good. And female gang members get pregnant at 15 or 16 and produce new gang members.” While several smaller cities have higher murder rates, experts agree that Chicago and Los Angeles have the biggest, most entrenched street gangs in America. “We have about 100,000 gangbangers,” said Los Angeles Chief William Bratton. “But there is a core group–3 to 5 percent–who are the true sociopaths, who are responsible for 50 to 60 percent of the violence.” Bratton know he needs help from other parts of the community. He wants to bring in Chicago’s CeaseFire program, which employs former gang members to intervene in violent disputes. He hopes that a countywide referendum in November will allow the hiring of 1,500 officers.