Gang-related killings in Los Angeles declined dramatically last year as police and other agencies waged an intensive campaign, reports the Los Angeles Times. The dip in gang homicides was part of an overall reduction in serious crime in the city. The Los Angeles Police Department recorded 216 gang-related deaths in 2007. Although that figure accounted for more than half of all homicides citywide, it was a 27 percent drop from the year before.
Last February, officials took the controversial step of identifying what they called the city’s 11 most dangerous gangs and targeted them with teams of police, federal agents, probation officers, and prosecutors. Then city stepped up policing and intervention programs in eight “gang reduction zones.” Civil rights attorney Connie Rice applauded the decline but said any celebration should be tempered by a continued epidemic of gang violence. “We have to break the norm of gang culture in hot zones. The ranks keep refilling,” said Rice, director of the Advancement Project, which wants the city to invest $1 billion in a prevention programs. “The mistake is looking through the lens of crime fighting. You cannot arrest your way out of this problem.”