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A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Gang Program Evaluations

February 27th, 2009 by Celeste Fremon


As mentioned below, yesterday morning LA City Controller Laura Chick delivered her report that examined how the mayor’s office was doing with its gang violence reduction programs—now that a year has gone by since all the city’s gang-related dollars were yanked from the clutches of the city council and handed over to the mayor’s office for planning and administration.

Looking over what has been accomplished, Chick says, there is a bunch of planning and a little bit of implementation under Reverend Jeff Carr, the mayor’s gang czar, who was put in charge of the city’s gang initiave.

Although the blueprint has been drawn up, so to speak, she says, the house ain’t built.

Moreover there are two BIG things missing from what Carr and the mayor’s office have been doing, says Chick.

One is the failure to coordinate with LAUSD or with the County of Los Angeles. This is a big deal. In their exhaustive reports outlining what the city needed to do to lower gang violence, one of the points that both Chick and Connie Rice emphasized was an all-hands-on-deck style coordination with LA County and with the school district.

As it is, the city has precious little money to put toward gang prevention and intervention programs. However, by working together with the district and the County (and others), everyone’s money will be maximized.

Failing to coordinate , on the other hand, is likely to mean duplicated efforts, and waste.

Yet an even bigger criticism embedded in Chick’s report was her team’s observation that, nearly one year into its work, the mayor’s Office of Gang Reduction and Youth Development—or GRYD, as it is now known—has no system in place to evaluate its programs— even though shoddy evaluation was what made such a mess of the city’s previous gang programs.

It should be noted that Carr and GRYD have already handed out city money to various non-profits and other groups, and they are getting ready to hand out more.

“The Blueprint stressed the importance of evaluating the anti-gang services model by determining what is and is not working. A systematic evaluation is critical because the success of the program as well as future funding relies heavily on the results of the evaluation – which is why the City needs to ensure the evaluation is adequate and provides a reliable and independent assessment,” Chick wrote.

For an accurate assessment, I am told, evaluators need to be on board from Day One.

So why hasn’t this happened? Especially after the mayor’s promises for complete accountability when he first launched his gang initiative a year ago.

For months, critics have been saying privately that the mayor, Jeff Carr and their GRYD folks might we trying to exercise a teensy, weensy bit of undue control over the outcome of the evaluations….

…so that they can claim success.

Whether they have actually been successful or not.

“Los Angeles has historically awarded agencies multiple contracts year after year after year without holding them accountable by tying the dollars to proof that the desired results have been achieved,” Chick wrote in her report a year ago.

Let’s hope that isn’t happening now.


ON A RELATED NOTE: A new report by the Violence Policy Centerand funded by the Wellness Foundation—-calls for much better record keeping on the part of So-Cal law enforcement in terms of gangs and guns.

The study concludes:

For law enforcement and violence prevention advocates to begin answering the questions…how are firearms obtained by gang members, what types of guns and/or design features do gang members favor, how do changes in the design and firepower of firearms affect youth gang violence, and, most importantly, what prevention policies can be put in place to aid in reducing firearms death and injury connected with youth gang violence…, the first step is to recognize that currently the answers to these questions are not readily available. The second is to begin identifying approaches and collaborations to begin the process of answering them.”


Posted in Antonio Villaraigosa, Gangs | 5 Comments »

5 Responses

  1. Woody Says:

    Want to help gang members? Put a waiting period on tattoos, just like handguns, to give them time to consider that they will disfigure themselves for life and close opportunities for jobs with their outrageous looks. Heck, just make tattoos illegal, period, or let them use the peel-off ones like we used to find in bubble gum and could wash off. Good idea, huh?

  2. lost poetry Says:

    I wonder if these type of gang intervention programs would work on the mexican drug cartels? Maybe some poetry or writing classes for the sinaloa drug cartel members will inspire them to stop their criminal ways.

  3. Celeste Fremon Says:

    Hmmmm. I’m a great believer in the transformative power of art but, you’re right, those guys doing the beheadings in TJ might be a little past the poetry cure.

  4. Janet Says:

    Chick is proving what many of us throughout the city have known. Jeff Carr has no clue what he’s doing or experience working with gangs. He thinks these violent criminals will hand over guns for their mammas on Mother’s Day. He is completely clueless. The prevention/intervention people out on the streets doing the “real” work aren’t getting the money. Its all a favoritism game. Whoever helps the Mayor gets the money its that simple. Read the list of gang programs. Some of them aren’t even in the city but LA County. Why isn’t anyone screaming about that??

  5. Mr. Mayor’s righteous hand man Says:

    [...] article and the audience, I think this is a good piece.PHOTO: A retouched image of Jeff Carr, via WitnessLA /* /* Filed Under: Evangelicals, People, Politics « Passports to Mecca (and safe travel) [...]

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