Nearly six months into the Los Angeles police crackdown on gang violence, the number of gang-related homicides has dropped 32 percent, from 117 to 79, mirroring an overall decline in violent crime across the city, says the Los Angeles Times. Police Chief William Bratton said the plunge in gang killings has helped fuel a 24 percent drop in overall homicides. “That’s 48 fewer murder victims, 48 fewer families victimized and 48 fewer young men going to jail for 20 to 25 years for that crime,” Bratton said. “We are actually saving two lives – the victim, and hopefully, keeping another young person from committing a murder.”
After a 15 percent increase in gang-related crimes in 2006, more police officers were shifted into neighborhoods with large concentrations of gang members to target 11 gangs that police considered the worst. “That is a substantial decline in gang homicides if their gang-related definition has remained the same,” said criminologist Malcolm Klein of the University of Southern California, who has studied gangs for several decades. Some officers said that although they believe police have made a difference, other factors, such as demographic changes, improved trauma care for victims, and longer prison sentences, are also affecting the trend.