L.A.: Proposed anti-gang czar gets new life

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L.A.: Proposed anti-gang czar gets new life

Unread post by Christina Marie » January 9th, 2006, 1:30 pm

Proposed anti-gang czar gets new life
Gang plan sparks debate
By Dan Laidman, Staff Writer



With Los Angeles taxpayers spending $26 million a year to keep young people out of gangs, officials propose creating a single agency to oversee the dozens of programs designed to stem the city's No. 1 crime problem.
The "anti-gang czar" plan, making its way through the city bureaucracy, has sparked renewed debate on how to fund anti-gang efforts and how to make them effective and accountable.

Some question the plan's focus - as lacking a regional outlook - while a prominent scholar on gangs fears a new agency would merely reshuffle programs that might be missing the mark.

"I think the effort has to be much more concentrated at using what we know about gangs, which is not what the city agencies usually do," said Malcolm Klein, emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Southern California.

A single gang-control agency was proposed more than a year ago by then-City Councilman Martin Ludlow. The idea was recently re-introduced by Councilman Tony Cardenas. Later, Councilmen Eric Garcetti and Ed Reyes proposed efforts to secure more money for such programs.

The motion, which has yet to go before the City Council, would require that a percentage of any new funds for crime prevention, including the hiring of more police officers, be set aside for youth anti-gang programs. The proposed percentage has not yet been specified.

The people running anti-gang programs may be nervous about the political wrangling but say they are glad the discussion is taking place.

"We don't have an official position on the creation of the (gang-control) department, but anything that raises the issue and provides for increased coordination, we are supportive of," said John Chavez, director of L.A. Bridges, the largest of Los Angeles' anti-gang programs.

Details about a new-agency proposal are scarce. Officials have declined to provide many specifics pending completion of an ongoing bid process for a consultant to draft a strategic plan.

But Cardenas has said he wants to trim overlapping functions and provide accountability by placing a single official at the top.

The city's Commission for Children, Youth and Their Families recently sent a letter to the mayor and City Council saying the bid process focuses too much on creating a new city agency and not enough on fostering cooperation with regional partners, including school officials, regardless of boundaries, and county probation and social workers.

"Gang violence is not a problem that can be analyzed and addressed within defined geographic boundaries," wrote Beatriz Olvera Stotzer, the commission's president.

The proposal has drawn support from the Los Angeles Police Department, the one city department that would be specifically excluded from the new agency.

"I think what's being proposed for the city government is the missing part of the whole gang issue: the prevention and intervention aspect - the part that law enforcement really can't do - with someone at the top who's accountable, someone who can act as a conductor of the orchestra," said Lt. Paul Vernon, an LAPD spokesman and former anti-gang team leader.

Ludlow, who recently left the City Council to lead the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, said the main goal is to stop finger-pointing that can hobble progress.

"Addressing the gang problem is as essential as fixing potholes, putting speed bumps out there, trimming trees and providing some of the basic services that taxpayers expect a city to deliver. We have department directors for each of those," Ludlow said. "(But) the person coordinating L.A.'s gang response from a programmatic level is three levels buried in the same department that supervises day-care programs for toddlers. That's ridiculous."

Tracking youths at risk of getting into gangs and trouble would be a major function of the new agency as Ludlow envisions it. When a caseworker hears that a child is being exposed to gang membership by an older sibling, the information should be immediately shared with intervention specialists through a formal procedure, Ludlow said.

The LAPD would be willing to work closely with such an agency to facilitate information-sharing, Vernon said.

But Klein, the USC sociologist, is wary of micro-level case management and of involving law enforcement in prevention efforts.

With some 40,000 gang members in the city of Los Angeles, it is impossible for a city agency to reach each individual, he said, and the big-picture root causes, including poverty and racism, are equally daunting.

City leaders should be focusing on the area in between, Klein said, which is "the issue of how to empower communities to take more charge of the situation themselves."

Klein worked as a city consultant on such issues in the late 1990s after then-Mayor Richard Riordan called for an anti-gang czar. While such an appointment was never made, the discussions at the time led to the formation of L.A. Bridges.

The program's prevention component provides after-school activities and individual case management to about 4,000 kids ages 10-14 each year. An intervention segment reaches about 1,000 older youths already in gangs.

Klein contends that L.A. Bridges has become a general social-services program that, while doing much for children, spends too many resources on those who are not involved with gangs.

Anecdotal evidence suggests the program does help keep kids away from gangs, Chavez said, although he said he is working to arrange more empirical evaluations.

The program, voluntary for students and parents, is so popular that, even though they were on a break from school, more than a dozen kids showed up at Sutter Middle School on a recent afternoon.

One was Mark De La Vega, a seventh-grader from Reseda, participating in a softball game and an art project that day. He said he prefers these activities to staying in his neighborhood, where gang members hang around.

"I like the sports, and I like the counselors," he said about L.A. Bridges. "I have fun here."


http://dailynews.com/news/ci_3384141

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Unread post by qbone » January 22nd, 2006, 9:14 pm

There are hundreds of programs that need to be audited in the world on gang intervention/prevention. i have worked with gang programs sense 1992 created a non profit program during the gangtruce in LA have gone all over the country and spoke on the behalf of social change.i have personally been awarded many proclamations from city,state,and federal officals.spoke at many colleges juvenile hall , been in many hoods throughout the country
speaking as well as pushing peace.

we need some real support to make a program work in our community
u have adhoc committes,boards,programs that can not stop gang voilence
i know from years experiance that we got to step our gsme up and really work with the youth/adults reading this and wondering how they do it . i can say this if the city creates another program it needs to work closer with intervention workers who have what it takes to get the job done they r in the streets daily not behind no desk but actually puting there knowledge and heart in to helping the youth stay out of gangs. there are waY to many programs that do not cater to the problem but cater to the funding. those
programs need real auditing. i know for a fact cause none of those programs ever reached out to me when i was young but when i got older i realized that we have to clean up our own yard then others will be able to maintain some of the actions that we get in. these gang programs need a face lift.
i trust that the politics of a gang cazr is not just politics but a task and real
job that will reqiure one to really work with those who r trying to curve the
gang voilence by placing opprtunitys in the hood the real hood not the one some programs create that really aint geting the job done.
my respect goes out to the hard working intervention work that is done by real grassroots programs like unity one,two,three, no-guns, pathway to the
future, stop the voilence increase the peace as well as every other program that has real homeys who have made that change like myself
from gangbanging to become intervention counselors/ executive directors
of these various programs. all i left to say is keep pushing peace cause god gave us peace with our hearts to stop what we started decades ago
we have learn our lesson and got our blessings thats real talk......

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Unread post by black » January 23rd, 2006, 4:16 am

qbone wrote: there are waY to many programs that do not cater to the problem but cater to the funding. those
programs need real auditing. i know for a fact cause none of those programs ever reached out to me when i was young but when i got older i realized that we have to clean up our own yard then others will be able to maintain some of the actions that we get in. these gang programs need a face lift.
i trust that the politics of a gang cazr is not just politics but a task and real
job that will reqiure one to really work with those who r trying to curve the
gang voilence by placing opprtunitys in the hood the real hood not the one some programs create that really aint geting the job done.
my respect goes out to the hard working intervention work that is done by real grassroots programs like unity one,two,three, no-guns, pathway to the
future, stop the voilence increase the peace as well as every other program that has real homeys who have made that change like myself
from gangbanging to become intervention counselors/ executive directors
of these various programs. all i left to say is keep pushing peace cause god gave us peace with our hearts to stop what we started decades ago
we have learn our lesson and got our blessings thats real talk......
real talk right there...

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