June 5, 2007
William J. Bratton
Chief of Police
City of Los Angeles
Examining the Federal Role to Work with Communities to
Prevent and Respond to Gang Violence: The Gang Abatement and Prevention Act of 2007
United States Senate
Committee on the Judiciary
The Honorable Patrick J. Leahy, Chairman
June 5, 2007
Senator Feinstein and distinguished members of the committee, I thank you for holding this hearing and for affording me the opportunity to appear in-person to address this body. I am gratified that I am able to contribute to the record on what I view as one of the most important issues facing law enforcement in the United States - Gang Abatement and Prevention. This growing problem does not just have an impact at the local level; it effects the state and federal level of law enforcement as well.
I offer my perspective as a 37-year veteran law enforcement officer, Los Angeles Police Chief, and former Police Commissioner of the New York Police Department and Boston Police Department. As president of the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) and a long time member of the Major Cities Chiefs Association and International Association of the Chiefs of Police, I make it my business to study current events and to gauge the effects of those events on the police profession. It is incumbent on police leaders to continuously reevaluate the way we do business and to forecast the issues and problems that may impact on our ability to safeguard those we are sworn to protect and to serve.
Recent statistics released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) indicate that violent crime is increasing nationwide at its highest rate in 15 years. Current research conducted by PERF and supported by anecdotal evidence from some of the nation's leading police chiefs indicates we have a developing crime problem in this country, which has been commonly referred to as "A Gathering Storm." Crime numbers for 2006 indicate that crime is again spiking in communities throughout the country. In Los Angeles, where we have driven crime down by 29 percent over the last four years, and reduced the number of homicide victims by 25 percent, we continue to struggle with an entrenched gang crime problem. In fact, renowned civil rights attorney, Connie Rice, referred to Los Angeles as, "The gang capital of the country." After four years of steady decline in gang-related crime, including a 22 percent reduction in homicides, overall gang-related violent crime in Los Angeles rose by 15 percent in 2006. We track these crimes closely and when we identified this trend, I worked with my senior management team, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and other City and community leaders to develop a number of important, wide-ranging initiatives designed to significantly reduce the incidence of gang crime, which I will speak further upon later in the presentation. With that said, I want to make it perfectly clear that the Los Angeles Police Department's 2007 Gang Enforcement Initiatives dovetail perfectly with the proposals presented in the Senator Feinstein's Gang Abatement and Prevention Act of 2007 (S.456).
Among other initiatives, this comprehensive crime bill proposes an increase in gang prosecution and prevention efforts. It establishes an extended federal commitment to help fight criminal street gang violence nationwide, by authorizing more than $1 billion over the next five years to support federal, state and local law enforcement efforts against violent gangs, witness protection programs and services geared toward gang prevention. The bill further specifies that half of the High Intensity Gang Activity Area program funding be used for intervention and prevention efforts by schools and civic groups focused on at-risk youth, in a combined prevention-intervention-suppression approach modeled after the successful Operation Cease-fire Strategy, and with a new Gang Research, Evaluation and Policy Institute established to study and collect best practices for the prevention of gang violence and to train jurisdictions accordingly.
This bill recognizes what cops already know, that we can't arrest our way out of our gang crime problem. The police alone can't own the gang problem. Society must step up to address intervention and prevention and the Feinstein-Hatch Bill is a major and essential step in the right direction.
The LAPD firmly believes that prevention, intervention and suppression are the keys to curbing gang violence. The LAPD has seven prevention and two intervention programs, which provide at-risk youths with alternatives to gang membership and criminal behavior. Prevention programs deter at-risk youths from gangs and/or criminal behavior, while intervention programs help at-risk youths to separate from gangs and/or criminal behavior. However, nothing in life is free. Everything comes with a price. Other than providing personnel resources, neither the City nor the LAPD provides funding for these youth programs. The LAPD has 19 geographic Areas, all of which generate their own funding to support these nine programs, derived from various sources including, but not limited to, state and federal grants, Area boosters, corporate sponsors, private donors and fundraisers. High visibility also deters gang violence, and the LAPD conducts City-wide gang suppression efforts against gangs, gang crime and violence throughout the City of Los Angeles. The funding provided via the High Interstate Gang Activity Area program would greatly assist the LAPD in curbing this growing gang problem through prevention, intervention and suppression; further allowing us to provide the highest quality service to the people who live, work and visit the City of Los Angeles.
At this time, I would like to provide you with an outline of the current prevention, intervention and suppression programs that the LAPD has in place, and the costs for running these highly affective programs with a breakdown of where the monetary funds are generated.
First, let me start with the prevention aspect. Prevention programs deter at-risk youths from gangs and/or criminal behavior. As I alluded to earlier, the LAPD has seven prevention programs in place - the Law Enforcement Explorer program; the Gang Resistance Education and Training Program, also commonly referred to as the GREAT program; the Los Angeles Police Academy Magnet School program; the Jeopardy program; the Deputy Auxiliary Police Program; the Police Activities League Program, better know as the PALS program; and the Youth Program Initiative Youth Academy.
Let me first start by speaking about the Law Enforcement Explorer program. This program was established in 1962 as a prevention program for youths, ages 14 through 20, who demonstrated a strong interest in law enforcement. It is the goal of the program and the LAPD to assist those graduates with careers in law enforcement.
The Explorer program is comprised of 19 geographic Area explorer posts and one Senior Explorer post, which is housed within the LAPDs Juvenile Division. The LAPD currently has a total of 549 explorers in the program. The program conducts two explorer academies each year.
The primary goals and objectives of the Explorer program are to recruit and prepare young men and women for future careers in law enforcement; provide a forum in which young people can complete non-hazardous community services; and, provide them with training for the development of better citizens and physical fitness. During 2006, the 19 explorer posts provided 32,607 crime-prevention hours and 64,372 community-service hours, for a total of 96,979 hours, to the citizens of Los Angeles.
The Explorer program is the oldest and one of the most successful youth programs within the LAPD. Sworn personnel, who are assigned to the Explorer program, are ultimately responsible for the success of the program. The cost to finance one explorer recruit through the 16-session explorer academy is approximately $478.00 per recruit; which includes uniforms, accessories, academic supplies, graduation photographs and miscellaneous academy expenditures. The program is primarily funded through grant programs, which totals $276,000. The Juvenile Justice Crime Prevention Act (JJCPA) Schiff-Cardenas Grant provides $120,000, which finances two-explorer academies each year. The Los Angeles Police Foundation provides $130,000, which finances in-service training, training materials and equipment. The Weed and Seed grant provides the program with $11,000, and other miscellaneous grants totaling $15,000 round out the grant funding. The rest of the money needed to fund the program comes specifically from the 19 LAPD geographic Area posts, which is generated through donations and fundraisers from businesses and private organizations throughout the City, totaling $249,283.
The Gang Resistance Education and Training (GREAT) program, a school-based anti-gang prevention/educational program, was established in 2001. The program is sponsored by the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and administered by the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), Office of Justice Programs, United States Department of Justice (DOJ).
During 2006, the GREAT program was expanded to four schools - two middle schools and two elementary schools. Two full-time and four part-time officers currently teach the program at William Mulholland Middle School, Richard Henry Dana Middle School, CabrillO Avenue Elementary School and 15th Street Elementary School. At the conclusion of the 2006/07 school year, approximately 700 students will have been taught the GREAT curriculum.
The GREAT program's main objective is prevention. The program is intended to be an immunization against delinquency, youth violence and gang membership. The program's goals are to reduce gang participation, teach life skills and to educate the youth of today as to the consequences of gang involvement.
The BJA five-year study revealed students showed significant improvement in their peer relationships, attitudes towards law enforcement, and in their pro-social conduct. The LAPD submits a quarterly Categorical Discretionary Progress Report to the BJA addressing the number of participants, academic performance, and school attendance.
Since its inception, the GREAT enrollment has reached 5,000 students. Approximately 700 of these students have transitioned into the Magnet School or Explorer programs. The Department and the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), as partners in the GREAT program, are ultimately accountable for the success and future expansion of the program. The program improves the academic level of youth participants and facilitates transition into the Magnet and Explorer programs.
The BJA Federal Grant (FY 2006/07) funds the GREAT program, which totals $250,000. The percentage breakdown of the grant is as follows:
? Officer/Instructor's Salary Subsidy - $175,000 (70%)
? Training/Equipment/Awards - $75,000 (30%)
Total: $250,000 (100%)
The Magnet School program was established in 1996 as a school-based prevention program. The program is a cooperative effort among the Department, the LAUSD and various corporate sponsors.
During 2006, the Magnet School program was expanded from six to seven schools - five high schools and two middle schools. The program services 1,225 students, and 400 of these students have transitioned from the GREAT program. The gender makeup of both programs is 60 percent males and 40 percent females.
The Magnet School program prepares highly motivated young men and women for careers in law enforcement, as well as other related technical fields. The primary educational goal of the program is for 100 percent of the participating students to graduate high school and subsequently attend college. The long-term goal is to develop future police officers and leaders in the community.
The LAUSD maintains a database on all Magnet School program students until the age of 23, which is the age when most students graduate from college and/or make a career choice. This database monitors student performance by measuring if the student continues their formal college education and/or whether they transition into a law enforcement career.
The Magnet School program maintains performance criteria monitored by the assigned sworn police officer and faculty member at each school. Student cadets are required to meet high performance standards. Monitoring has shown that attendance, grade point averages, graduation rates and college enrollment of Magnet school students are significantly higher than the general student population.
In 2007, the LAPD found that the attendance rate for Magnet students was 97 percent, in comparison to that of the general student population of 55 percent. Ninety-eight percent of Magnet students continued their formal education, in comparison to that of the general population 57 percent. Twenty-six Magnet graduates are currently employed as full-time LAPD police officers, while six other Magnet graduates have started the LAPD employment process.
The California Partnership Academy grant funds $85,000 for each of the five high schools involved in the program for a total of $425,000. An additional $40,000 comes from corporate donors to provide Magnet School program awards and college scholarships to graduating senior cadets.
The Jeopardy program was established in 1990 as a gang-prevention program for youths, ages eight through 17. The program targets youth "at-risk" of becoming involved in gang activity and offers them a variety of educational and physical projects from tutoring to martial arts.
The Jeopardy program advocates scholastic achievement and good citizenship, while focusing on school attendance, social behavior, goal-setting skills, and academic performance.
The Jeopardy program serves approximately 353 youths at 10 LAPD geographic
Areas including Rampart, Southwest, Southeast, 77th Street, Van Nuys, Foothill,
Devonshire, Mission, West Valley and North Hollywood Areas.
The program uses monthly case status reports, academic performance, and positive or negative contacts with law enforcement to measure the effectiveness of the program. Although the Jeopardy program involves various community-based organizations; i.e., Balancing the Odds Foundation, in operating their program, the LAPD is ultimately responsible for the success and failure of the program.
In December 2003, the LAPD, with approval from the Los Angeles City Council, implemented the Jeopardy Program Payroll Deduction Fund. City employees donate through voluntary payroll deduction to the Jeopardy program. The funds are deposited into the Jeopardy account maintained in the Police Department Trust Fund. The account is administered by the LAPD Fiscal Operations Division and coordinated by our Juvenile Division. In addition to the Jeopardy Payroll Deduction Fund, the LAPD geographic Area Jeopardy programs received the following funding during 2006 and 2007, which totaled $217,780.
Jeopardy Payroll Deduction Fund$22,600
The Deputy Auxiliary Police (DAP) program introduces the Cities youth to life experiences, while allowing them to participate in activities that instill a sense of community pride, self-discipline, and leadership in an overall positive police environment. The association these kids have with police officers helps develop a sense of ethics, values and skills that mature them into responsible and productive members of the community.
The DAP program focuses on youths, ages nine through 13, and currently services 327 youths at seven LAPD geographic Area Community Police Stations; including Central, Southwest, Wilshire, Pacific, Harbor, Mission and North Hollywood Areas.
The DAP Program introduces kids to the field of law enforcement and provides physical and mental preparation necessary to make the transition into the Explorer and Magnet School programs. The goals of the DAP Program are to focus youth activities in a constructive and positive direction, learn good citizenship skills, become involved in service to the community, and participate in educational and recreational enrichment activities.
The effectiveness of the program is measured through academic performance, attendance, either negative or positive police contact, and the number of youths that transition into the Explorer or Magnet School programs.
The DAP program is funded by donations, fundraisers and grants totaling $36,900.
The breakdown of monetary funds from donations, fundraisers and grants are as follows:
The Department's Police Activity League (PAL) program was established in 1992.
The PAL Program gives disadvantaged youths the opportunity to participate in self-enhancement activities, such as recreational and athletic activities, and educational field trips. The program promotes trust and understanding between young people and police officers, by bringing youths under the direct supervision and constructive influence of police officers.
The PAL program services approximately 1,091 youths at 10 LAPD geographic Area Community Police Stations; including Devonshire, Mission, West Valley, Rampart, Hollenbeck, Southwest, Newton, Harbor, Hollywood and West Los Angeles Areas.
The PAL program develops a partnership between police officers and our community's youth. The goals and objectives are developed in adherence to educational, athletic, and family mentoring activities. The program's effectiveness is measured through the high number of youths involved in the program, approximately 1,100 participants. Due to the program's varied curriculum, youths are able to participate in academic and athletic activities, where they earn awards to document their accomplishments. Many PAL participants' transition into the Explorer and Magnet programs.
Since the local PAL chapters are affiliated with National and CAL PAL, they frequently receive federal and state funding to assist them in conducting an effective program. The Area PAL programs received a total of $267,796 in donations, fundraisers and grants. The breakdown of monetary funds from donations, fundraisers and grants during 2006 were as follows:
The last LAPD prevention program I want to discuss with you is the Youth Program Initiative (YPI) Youth Academy. This program was introduced in the fall of 2006. The Youth Academy is a pilot after-school program currently conducted at LAUSDs John Adams and Florence Nightingale Middle Schools. The program is a career-based prevention program designed to familiarize youth with the role of police officers, its culture, and the rewards associated with a law enforcement career. The program's philosophy focuses on the creation of a disciplined learning environment where candid and open dialogue is appreciated, and where treating others with respect and tolerance is the standard.
The applicant must be in the 7th or 8th grade, and between the ages 11 through 14, to participate in the program. The youth must attend the middle school where the Youth Academy is being conducted. To qualify for enrollment, the student must have a "C" or better academic grade and a rating of "Satisfactory" or above in citizenship. The six-week academy is currently conducted twice each week at the two middle schools. Los Angeles Police Department personnel and LAUSD faculty instruct the program. Based on the success of the program, future expansion to other middle schools is desired.
Class One recently graduated nine students at Adams Middle School. Class Two, with 31 students enrolled, and Class Three, with 26 students, are currently in session at John Adams Middle School and Florence Nightingale Middle School, respectively.
The Youth Academy objectives and goals are to:
? Transition students into the Police Explorer and Magnet School programs;
? Interest and recruit students into criminal justice careers, either sworn or civilian positions within the LAPD;
? Familiarize cadets in LAPD operations and police officer duties;
? Promote learning by developing the students' written and verbal communication, and mathematical and problem-solving skills;
? Foster collaboration between police officers, educators, parents, and the community to help students achieve the best training as they pursue their educational and career goals;
? Develop good citizenship standards; and,
? Expand the program to several middle schools.
The LAUSD monitors the grades and academic progress of all student participants. Ultimately, the number of student participants who transition into the Explorer or Magnet School programs determines the overall success of the program. Due to the recent implementation, it is currently not possible to measure the effectiveness of the program.
The LAUSD is currently funding the after-school program by supplying teachers and supplies to conduct the classroom instruction. The LAPD is supplying police personnel to coordinate and assist in the classroom instruction. The overall cost of the program has not yet been determined.
I would know like to segment from prevention into intervention. Let me start by saying this, intervention programs help at-risk youths to separate from gangs and/or criminal behavior. The LAPD understands this, and is committed to the overall success of these next two programs I am about to discuss.
First, the LAPD has the Juvenile Impact program (JIP). The JIp was established at LAPDs Central Area in 1990. The JIP is an intervention, boot-camp style program for at-risk youths, ages 14 through 17.
During Fiscal Year 2006/07, the JIp serviced approximately 256 youths at five LAPD Community Police Stations; including Central, 77th Street, Southeast, Harbor and Rampart Areas. Los Angeles Police Department personnel work with the Juvenile Court, schools, teachers and parents to make a "military style" boot-camp successful. Most JIp participants enter the program as a result of a negative police contact.
Juvenile Impact program participants must meet the following criteria:
? Be an at-risk youth in need of immediate diversion from crime and gangs;
? Between the ages of 14 through 17. Participants under 14 years of age must be approved by an Area Commanding Officer;
? Youth must have behavioral/discipline problems; and,
? Youth can not have a serious or violent felony criminal record.
The program is designed to intervene with at-risk youth, identify issues and causes for delinquent and anti-social behavior, and develop a comprehensive plan for change. The ultimate goal is to have youth participants complete the program and remain free from future arrests.
The Los Angeles Police Foundation contracted the Evaluation and Training Institute (ETI) to evaluate the JIp at our 77th Street Area. The ETI measured the short and long-term impact of the program on the youth participants and their parents. The ETI evaluated the effect the JIp had on youth participants regarding law enforcement, discipline and respect for their parents. The survey was conducted on the first and eighth week of the program, and again 90 days after completion of the program. The following are the objectives and results of the ETI survey:
Objective 1: Increase Student Awareness of Structure and Discipline.
? 97% of the parents agreed they were comfortable disciplining their child, and saw a greater response to discipline by their child.
Objective 2: Increase and Improve Student Behavior both Socially and Academically.
? Post-survey results indicated that parents saw improvements in their child's behavior.
? 83% of the students were able to utilize their new anger-management skills to handle conflict at home, at school and in the community environment.
Objective 3: Increase Community Awareness of the LAPD.
? 86% of parents appreciated law enforcement for their participation in the HP.
? 100% of parents agreed with the statement, "I trust law enforcement."
? 81% of students agreed with the statement, "I trust law enforcement."
Objective 4: Decrease Community and Social Violence in the Local Area.
? The majority of parents believed their children were not involved in criminal activities.
? 81% of post-survey students agreed with the statement, "It is bad to break the law."
Objective 5: Increase Student Attendance and Improve their School Behavior.
? 86% of pre-survey parents believed their children do not follow school rules and regulations.
? 58% of post-survey parents believed their children do not follow school rules, a 28% reduction.
? 98% pre-survey students believed that it is important to follow school rules. That percentage fell to 79% at the end of the JIP, a 9% reduction.
Objective 6: Improve Police and Community Relations.
? Objectives 3 and 6 had many of the same questions, therefore, the findings of these two objectives were combined.
Objective 7: Improve Student Achievement both in and out of School.
? 94% of post-survey parents agreed with the statement, "I am involved in my child's life."
? 91% of post-survey students were glad to have participated in the JIP.
The JlP is funded through donations, fundraisers and grants totaling $185,000. The breakdown of monetary funds from donations, fundraisers and grants during
2006 were as follows:
The second program is the Youth Advocacy Program (YAP). This program was established in 1990, as an intervention and diversion program. The Mayor and the Los Angeles City Council designated the City's Community Development Department (CDD), the LAPD, and the Office of the City Attorney to develop an alternative to the court system.
The YAP provides professional counseling to youth who are at-risk of becoming involved in criminal behavior, gangs or are first or second-time offenders not involved in serious crimes against persons and, generally, not on probation or parole.
The YAP services youths, ages six through 17, and their parents. During 2006, LAPD personnel referred 432 youths to Family Development Network (FDN) agencies for professional counseling, as compared to 90 referrals during 2005, for a 437 percent increase.
The YAP diverts at-risk youth into a counseling program, in lieu of a court appearance, through referrals to community-based agencies. There are currently 12 FDN community-based lead agencies City-wide. As of September 2005, the City's CDD and the LAPD have implemented FDN counselors at the Community Police Stations. The on-site FDN counselors provide immediate intake and counseling services to YAP referrals.
Studies conducted by the LAPD showed that the YAP produced a 75 to 77 percent success rate with 25 percent or fewer referred youths becoming involved in a subsequent arrest and/or criminal behavior.
Lead agencies are responsible for meeting their enrollment goals. Goal attainment data is provided for consideration when proposals for funding are rated. The CDD, Human Services and Family Development Division staff review reported enrollments monthly to check compliance with enrollment goals. Several times per contract period, assigned monitors make site visits to review client files. The monitors check for attendance records, case worker notes and client service plans. An annual contract compliance review is subsequently conducted for each FDN consortium, and a summary of the report findings is sent to the FDN agency.
The FDN funding is derived primarily from the Community Development Block Grant, with a lesser amount from the Community Services Block Grant. Ten of the 12 FDN consortia have been funded at a level of $800,000 per year, and two are funded at a $700,000 annual level.
The last phase of this presentation I wish to discuss with you deals with suppression. I don't know how else to say it except to say, suppression programs enforce juvenile and gang crime. Although sometimes not viewed as a positive by many of today's Monday morning quarterbacks, suppression efforts are a much needed tool in today's violent gang society.
In 2006, Los Angeles faced a very unique situation. We experienced a 15 percent increase in gang-related crime; however, overall crime was down City-wide. In response to this revelation, we shifted more cops into the communities with large concentrations of gang members. Utilizing COMPSTAT statistics, a high-tech computer system that tracks and anticipates future crime areas, we addressed the issue head-on by placing "cops on the dots."
In response to an increase in gang-related crimes in 2006, the LAPD identified a number of important wide-ranging initiatives that were implemented this year, designed to significantly reduce the incident of gang crime. This effort is a comprehensive, multi-faceted approach that navigates the entire criminal justice continuum. With more than 290 active gangs in the City of Los Angeles, with a combined membership of over 31,000 gang members, the following gang enforcement efforts are directed at identified gangs and gang members involved in serious violent crime and narcotics sales. Some of the initiative enforcement components, which I spoke about at the beginning of my testimony, include the following:
? Launch of the South Bureau Criminal Gang Homicide Group;
? Designation of the Department Gang Coordinator;
? Placement of Los Angeles gang members on the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted List?",
? Identification of the City's "Top Targeted Gangs;"
? Implementation of the "Community Safety Operations Center;"
? Patrol Proliferation Strategy;
? 204th Street Gang Abatement Strategy;
? Gang Abatement Legislation;
? Convergence of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies;
? Convergence of law enforcement agencies at the local, state, and federal levels;
? Community Symposiums on Gang Awareness; and,
? Community Awareness Bulletins.
Let me take the time know to explain exactly how these initiatives have paid huge dividends in decreasing gang crime in the City of Los Angeles, and will continue adding to the success of collaboration between local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to curb this growing gang epidemic.
The creation of our South Bureau Criminal Homicide Group, which is housed in our Department's South Bureau, traditionally known as the most violent part of the City, brings together over 120 of the most experienced and ambitious homicide and gang detectives in the City. This innovative organization focuses exclusively on gang-related murders and attempt murders. Only in the early stages of its inception, it has already been a phenomenal success. So far to date, the Criminal Homicide Group has investigated 50 cases, some of which date back more than two decades. Of those 50 cases, they have solved 42 of them, which is an astonishing 84 percent clearing rate. Overall, the clearance rate for South Los Angeles homicides have increased from 48 percent in 2006 to 74 percent this year. Overall, the City-wide clearance rate has jumped from 63 percent in 2006 to 75 percent in 2007.
Coordination with the Office of the Mayor and other partner agencies and community groups has been achieved by the designation of the Commanding Officer, Detective Bureau, as the Department Gang Coordinator (DGC). This executive-level police official is responsible for bringing continuity, cohesion and consistency to the Department's overall gang reduction strategy. Additionally, the DGC is responsible for providing solution-based strategies designed to drive our gang initiative agenda.
The LAPD recently identified a Los Angeles area gang member whose name was provided by the FBI for placement on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List. The placement of criminal fugitives from Los Angeles represents the LAPDs intention to arrest, prosecute and incarcerate the most notorious gang criminals in this region. In fact, the first top 10-gang member to be placed on the list, Angel Zevallos, was captured within 10 days of being placed on the list. This capture was truly a team effort, and very impressive to see come together. It was as if all of the outside agencies, along with the LAPD detectives were working together across the room rather than across the country. Upon capture of these gang members, another local gang member that meets the FBI criteria for placement on the list will be provided to the FBI.
We have also taken a proactive step in identifying the City's top targeted street gangs. Previously, law enforcement officials did not divulge the names of individual gangs who were involved in crimes because of a widely held perception that doing so elevated the criminal's influence and standing in the gang community. This new strategy abandons the earlier posture and challenges these menaces by exposing their corrosive behavior to the scrutiny of a more informed and confident community.
The LAPD has also implemented a "Community Safety Operations Center." Housed in our Operations- Valley Bureau, the Community Safety Operations Center combines the enforcement capability of law enforcement with the advocacy of involved community members. People working with people, people working with police. This special enforcement group of over fifty officers, motor personnel and supervisors analyze real-time crime data and other information to rapidly and strategically deploy officers in crime-ridden regions of the San Fernando Valley. They deploy in a variety of configurations to include high-visibility patrols and other, less traditional covert means of apprehending violent criminals.
The proliferation strategy initiative allows patrol officers, with appropriate training and oversight, to engage in the enforcement of civil injunctions and the service of arrest warrants on which gang members are named. This initiative is designed to take full advantage of the LAPD field force and dramatically increase our ability to protect law-abiding citizens. Working in conjunction with the Mayor's Office and the City Attorney's Office, the LAPD has successfully enacted 31 active gang injunctions involving 46 gangs. These injunctions have become an extraordinary tool in combating gang crime in the City of Los Angeles.
As a result of numerous assaults committed by the 204th Street gang, including recent racially motivated homicides, the 204th Street gang has been targeted for enforcement action using a number of strategies, most of which I have previously discussed with you today. The LAPDs primary goal is to protect law-abiding citizens from crimes motivated by prejudice, while easing tension in the community. By focusing in on this notorious gang, the LAPD is not only creating a more peaceful environment to visit, live and work, but also an environment that can be used as a role model for the rest of the country in the area of tolerance.
As still another strategic dimension of our scholastic approach to regulate gang violence, the LAPD has begun to submit local and state policymakers for consideration - recommendations for comprehensive and thoughtful gang abatement legislation that will enhance the ability of law enforcement agencies in the State of California to address indiscriminate acts of gang violence and conditions that perpetuate them. This effort is intended to solidify our resolve to dismantle the very notion of criminal street gangs within borders of the City of Los Angeles and beyond.
Cooperation and coordination is the key to success. The LAPD is fully aware of this concept, which is the focus behind our initiative - convergence of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. In just a short amount of time, unprecedented partnerships have been established with the Los Angeles Sheriff s Department; FBI; Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms; Drug Enforcement Administration; California State Parole; Los Angeles County Probation; LAUSD Police; and, other local municipal police departments across the nation. The LAPD believes strongly in the concept of working together and that together, we can make a difference. In fact, this year we began working in conjunction with the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and the Los Angeles District and City Attorneys Office targeting 11 street gangs that were considered to be the worst in Los Angeles, and quite possibly the entire country. This is the type of coordinated effort and collaboration necessary to make a difference in this country. Working together, sharing ideas between us, places the law enforcement community one-step ahead of the criminals, which will ultimately reduce gang violence and crime.
Each of the LAPD Operations bureau commanding officers coordinate and convene special education seminars in various regions of their command designed to heighten the community's awareness of gang cultures and trends. Groups that will have an opportunity to participate in these special learning institutes will include:
? Neighborhood Councils;
? Community-Police Advisory Boards;
? Community-Police Academy Graduates;
? Clergy Council Members;
? Faith and Civic Leaders;
? Public and Private School Principles and Administrators;
? Specialist Reserves; and,
? Other Community Stakeholders.
Education is power. Gangs create fear in the communities through violent acts and by manipulating the community's lack of understanding and awareness of the resources and tools that are available to them to thwart this growing menace. To help empower and educate the community, the LAPD has been distributing mailers and other media in an effort to enlighten our community partners and cultivate their consciousness concerning the things they must do to sustain their sense of neighborhood independence.
These initiatives that I have just laid out for you have already shown great dividends. As of this past week, City-wide, Los Angeles recorded 79 gang-related homicides, compared with 117 during the same period last year, which equates to a 32.5 percent decrease. In comparison to 2002, the year I took over as Chief of Police, Los Angeles has gone from 162 gang-related killings to 79, a 51.2 percent decrease City-wide.
South Los Angeles has seen a decrease in homicides from 70 to 58 in comparison to this time last year. Overall, gang-related homicides in South Los Angeles are down 23 percent from 47 to 36. This plunge in killings has helped fuel a 24 percent drop in overall homicides. In laymen terms, that's 48 fewer murder victims, 48 fewer families victimized and 48 fewer young men going to jail for 20 to 25 years for that crime. In reality, we are saving two lives - the victim, and hopefully, keeping another young person from committing murder.
Much of our success comes from very proactive policing and other sophisticated crime fighting efforts, such as placing cameras in high crime areas, gang injunctions, prosecution programs such as the Community Law Enforcement and Recovery program, better known as CLEAR, and financial support from the Los Angeles Housing Authority granting extra overtime for patrols in high crime areas.
These numbers reflect exactly what I have been saying for years, "We need more cops." With more resources, we can devote more time to the cases and solve them, and with fewer murders taking place, we have more time to look at the unsolved cases to resolve those as well. Quite simply, it's a matter of resources. Resources working together at all levels, local, state and federal, making a difference and turning around this growing gang problem we face today.
The LAPDs crime suppression efforts have been extremely effective, and have had a direct impact on violent gang crime trends throughout the City of Los Angeles. By beefing-up our police efforts, gang-related crime has dropped as much as 30 percent City-wide. In just the first five months of this year, Gang-related homicides have dropped 30 percent, bringing our total City-wide homicide rate down to 24 percent, one of the lowest recorded levels in the history of the City. While gang-related homicides saw the biggest drop, the total of all gang-related crimes dropped 5.5 percent City-wide - from 2,521 recorded incidents last year to 2,382 this year.
Again, let me reiterate that nothing comes for free. Adequate funding for the prevention, intervention and suppression has been and always will be a source of great concern. However, the investment we pay now will reap great dividends in our future generations. The passing of this bill is the first step in the right direction in order to reverse the pendulum of gang violence in this country. I can not stress enough that other than providing personnel resources to operate the programs I have outlined for you today, the City of Los Angeles and the LAPD do not finance the programs. Only together, forming inter-agency partnerships for suppression, and providing the necessary funds to facilitate prevention and intervention programs can we accomplish seemingly impossible task.
In closing, let me say that I was privileged to have been afforded the opportunity in the 1990s to be part of the successful partnership between local, state and federal authorities that turned around the crime trend in this great country. The last time I provided testimony, I stated that it is my belief that the spikes we are seeing in crime are the first sign that the residual benefits of the 1990s investments are coming to an end. If this disinvestment is not reversed, we risk returning to an era where the police were thought to have no impact on crime and no role in crime prevention and control- a time when street crime spiraled out of control.
So I say to you this, "What can be done to reverse this growing trend and ensure that the pendulum does not continue to swing in the wrong direction?" The first step is to recognize that we have a problem. The next step is to engage in discussion and debate aimed at developing plausible solutions. We must enact policy that reflects our commitment and its growing impact on the people we protect and serve. This committee hearing is encouraging and serves as evidence that we may be, once again, moving toward the successful partnerships of the 1990s.
We got it right in this country in the 1990s, when we formed inter-agency partnerships and developed coordinated initiatives to combat crime. Let's get it right in the 21st Century.