LOS ANGELES – Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales today joined Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in highlighting the collaboration between the Department of Justice and the City of Los Angeles to curb the threat of violent gang crime in the city.
As with many other areas of the country, the Department and its components have partnered with state and local law enforcement in the Los Angeles area to form key partnerships and task forces aimed at actively investigating and prosecuting gang crime, preventing youth from becoming involved in gangs, and providing support to former gang members who are re-entering society.
“I am concerned about the gang problem in Los Angeles and applaud the strong coordination between federal law enforcement and our state and local partners to tackle this challenge,” said Attorney General Gonzales. “Enforcing the law in this area is important, but keeping kids out of gangs in the first place is the goal of all goals when it comes to combating gang violence.”
During his visit to Los Angeles, the Attorney General joined Mayor Villaraigosa in touring Homeboy Industries, a gang prevention facility located in East Los Angeles that receives support from a Gang Reduction Program (GRP) grant through the Department’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). Homeboy Industries provides job opportunities, training and counseling to former and would-be gang members throughout Los Angeles County. The funding for Homeboy Industries is part of a GRP grant aimed at addressing gang issues in the Boyle Heights area of Los Angeles, which is led by the Mayor’s office with assistance from federal and local law enforcement representatives.
Because many of the violent gangs in the Los Angeles area also have a presence in foreign countries, including Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, the Department sponsored an International Chiefs of Police Summit on Transnational Gangs in Los Angeles in February. The summit brought together law enforcement officials from California and Central America to discuss and develop joint enforcement, information sharing, and intervention strategies aimed at addressing their common gang problems. A follow-up conference is scheduled for April in El Salvador.
Other successful partnerships between the Department, and state and local officials in the Los Angeles area include the following:
FBI, DEA, and ATF are assisting the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) in two of LAPD’s Gang Enforcement Initiatives for 2007 by identifying, targeting and investigating the most active and violent gangs and gang members in the city. As part of this effort, the FBI recently announced that it will be sending a team of agents to work in the LAPD’s South Bureau, an area of the city with a particularly serious gang violence problem.
Last year, the Department selected a neighborhood in the Watts area of Los Angeles as one of six sites nationwide to participate in the Attorney General’s Comprehensive Anti-Gang Program. As part of the program, the area will receive $2.5 million in grant funds to enhance enforcement, prevention and prisoner re-entry efforts. Of this amount, $1.5 million will go directly to support prevention and re-entry programs designed with input from local citizens, community organizations, and parole and probation officials.
The Department provides funding to four Weed and Seed sites in the Los Angeles area. These sites couple enforcement with gang prevention programs ranging from gang resistance education for elementary school students to summer job programs for teens.
In conjunction with the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department helps fund a Public Housing Safety Initiative in the Jordan Downs housing development in Watts. The initiative includes a community policing model to enhance the relationship between police and residents, and a coalition of social service providers who refer residents to a variety of social services, including childcare, tutoring, English as a Second Language classes, job training, and placement programs.