Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa took issue with a study that said there was no evidence a multimillion-dollar anti-gang program had reduced crime, telling a youth violence summit in Washington, D.C., that Los Angeles is safer than any time since the 1950s, the Los Angeles Times reports. “Not since I was born has L.A. been this safe,” Villaraigosa said. Representatives of six cities — Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Memphis, San Jose, and Salinas, Ca., — that form the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention are meeting to share their experiences.
Villaraigosa said he wanted his program in Los Angeles to be a model for other cities. The Urban Institute, which was hired by the city to assess the program’s progress, reported last year that there was no evidence that the gang reduction office was responsible for the decline in violent crime, and it said that people enrolled in gang prevention activities were no less likely to engage in “delinquent” or “gang-related” behavior. Villaraigosa rejected that analysis, calling the crime data “incontrovertible.” he said there had been a 17 percent drop in gang crime since the program started. The Urban Institute study noted that gang-related crimes were declining before the mayor’s programs began.