“Gangs are no longer a local issue and they are no longer isolated to urban cities. They operate sophisticated multi-state and multi-national networks that cannot be contained by municipal police alone. That is why we need a sustained partnership with the federal government if we are going to turn our neighborhoods around. Cities need the federal government to make an investment and play its part.”
ROUGH TRANSLATION: “We need money—or else our gangs are coming to your cities. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.”
“This bill recognizes what cops already know, that we can’t arrest our way out of a gang crime problem. The police alone can’t own the gang problem. Society must step up to address intervention and prevention…”
ROUGH TRANSLATION: “We need money. We’re sick of the whole problem being dumped on cops and cops alone. What do we look like, social workers?”
It’s not my intention to make light of the situation. Beyond the political rhetoric, the mayor and the chief are pleading for essential resources. This month gang crime is down in Los Angeles. But if our city is to truly do something permanent about the violence that blows irreparable holes in too many LA families, it’s going to take a big infusion of cash.
In this year’s State of the City speech, Villaraigosa proposed targeting certain high crime areas of the city and flooding them with services in the form of a wrap around system of enforcement, prevention, intervention and community support. His plan was a sort of pilot version of the kind of all-hands-on-deck approach that Connie Rice had already proposed with her Advancement Project gang report.
But thus far the money needed to accomplish even the mayor’s mini version, just ain’t there.. It would be nice if Feinstein’s lock-’em-up gang bill provided a healthy share of the needed help, but it doesn’t. Out of its $1 billion budget, it allocates $50 million a year for prevention and intervention—for the whole country. Let’s say LA got a reasonable chunk, like maybe a full tenth of it—that’s $5 million. Split that five mil between law enforcement and prevention/intervention programs, and you can buy……not a hell of a lot.
Instead the bill turns petty crimes into Federal offenses, and puts its biggest bucks -behind an interweave of high profile Federal strike forces and multi-agency enforcement teams.
IN OTHER WORDS….the bill does nothing to keep the disaffected fool of a 15-year-old from blasting at an “enemy”—AKA another disaffected teenager—-and maybe hitting a toddler instead, which is what the heart of LA’s gang violence problem really looks like.
[MORE GANGS AND POLITICIANS AFTER THE JUMP]
Feinstein’s gang bill doesn’t help the 20,000 LA school kids living in gang haunted neighborhoods feel any safer walking to school.
It doesn’t help the kid about to be released from probation camp, who swears to himself that he’s going to “do good” when he gets out, but lands right back in the some old neighborhood, with the same old family problems, and the same old street temptations, the same school that really would prefer he’d drop out because they’re overcrowded anyway, and he looks like trouble.
But of course, the solutions to those kinds of day-in-day-out problems are nowhere near as glamorous as throwing money at a national FBI-led multi-agency, wire-tapping, RICO-wielding task force aimed at going after the big bad menace of, say, Mara Salvatrucha….or whatever.
ON THE OTHER HAND…. bills can change a lot in committee. If one reads between the lines, that seems to be what both Bratton and Villaraigosa are pushing for.
Antonio also said:
“In order to reduce gang violence for the long term, we must confront it with a comprehensive solution. That means a significant and sustained investment in prevention, intervention and re-entry, in addition to enhanced suppression.”
Yep. Exactly right.