Los Angeles officials are scrutinizing Unity T.W.O., a high-profile South L.A. gang intervention agency and City Hall contractor that has received more than $350,000 in public money this year. According to the Los Angeles Times, the agency has left gang-reduction supervisors, city officials and nonprofit executives frustrated with its operation. Documents paint a portrait of a troubled, overwhelmed agency — of overdrawn bank accounts, blown deadlines and missed payrolls.
Gang-intervention workers, many of them former gangsters themselves, act as liaisons between police and the community; increasingly, the city relies on them to monitor street gossip and prevent revenge shootings. Civic leaders are attempting to professionalize the field, which has long operated on the fringe. Unity T.W.O. was supposed to be a central part of that effort. Instead, the mayor’s gang-reduction office is preparing to sever ties with it.