Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn’s latest crime-fighting proposal is breathtaking in scope: an injunction prohibiting gang members from congregating anywhere within the city’s roughly 470 square miles, the Los Angeles Times reports. The plan, announced last week, has elicited deep skepticism from legal scholars and gang experts, who doubt that it would survive a court challenge and wonder how it could be realistically enforced. “I worked gangs for 30 years,” said Wes McBride, a retired Los Angeles County sheriff’s sergeant who heads the California Gang Investigators Association. “I just don’t see a citywide injunction working, and I don’t see it passing a constitutional test.”
The proposal has already served a political purpose for Hahn as he fights for reelection against City Councilman Antonio Villaraigosa. Introducing the topic has allowed Hahn to project a tough-on-crime message and it has given him a pretext to argue that Villaraigosa is weak on crime. Ira Reiner, a former city attorney and district attorney who supports Villaraigosa, called the idea “just fatuous. It’s not something you can seriously analyze, because there’s nothing to analyze.” In the late 1990s, Jeffrey Grogger, a former UCLA professor who is at the University of Chicago, studied 14 gang injunctions and concluded that violent crime fell 5 to 10 percent in the year after injunctions took effect.