In Op-Ed, Writer Laments LA’s Intractable Gang Problem


In an op-ed piece, Tim Rutten writes in the Los Angeles times: “Gang violence is to Los Angeles politics as the weather is to conversation: Everybody talks about it, and nobody ever does anything about it. Policing occasionally provides a temporary surcease…But though the (police) department is willing to take on gang violence where it becomes particularly virulent, treating this solely as a policing issue is a bit like asking the overextended, understaffed LAPD to engage in an endless game of Whac-a-Mole…

“The problem’s sheer scope makes it clear that it won’t yield to a solution based entirely — or even mainly — on law enforcement. People who believe most of the statistics thrown around during debates over gangs usually are the sort who respond to e-mails from Nigeria with their banking information. Still, conservative analysts estimate that as many as 40,000 people belong to the 700 or so gangs in the city of L.A. Countywide, there may be as many as 1,200 gangs with 80,000 members. The material cost of their criminality may be as much as $2 billion a year; the human toll in lives lost or deformed defies calculation.”


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