Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and police officials took the unusual step yesterday of identifying the city’s 11 worst gangs and promising to go after them with teams of police, federal agents, probation officers, and prosecutors. Facing 720 identifiable gangs with 39,000 members, the city will target the most dangerous groups, which total at least 800 members. Those gangs are thought to be responsible for a disproportionate amount of mayhem. Gangs on the list are believed to have committed 6% of the city’s violent crime last year.
How many local and federal officers will be committed to the anti-gang push remained unclear. Sme experts questioned whether the plan would be any more effective than past police crackdowns. Overall, serious crime declined in Los Angeles last year, but violent, gang-related crime increased 14 percent. Villaraigosa said Wednesday at an international summit on gang issues. Wes McBride of the California Gang Investigators Association and a retired Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy was “not sure” that identifying the gangs was a good idea.”These guys keep the clippings, and I don’t know if you can really say which are the most dangerous gangs on any one day,” he said. “It is the kind of advertising you don’t need.” McBride fears that some gangs would feel slighted if not named and might try to up the ante with more violence.