Since my appointment as Chief of Police in October 2002, the men and women of this Department have worked together to reduce crime, and we have made outstanding progress. For the fifth year in a row, we have shown significant decreases in crime in Los Angeles. The per capita crime rate for Part I crimes remained below the 1956 level for the second straight year, and we hold the distinction of being the second-safest big city in the nation. Many other large cities are now seeing a spike in crime, while you continue to keep crime at historic lows. We have made incredible strides toward regaining our place as national and international leaders in law enforcement, and we have significantly improved relations with the communities we serve.
Although the Department is making steady progress on our overall crime reduction goals, gang-related crime is up. Last year, crimes specifically related to gangs increased by 15.7 percent Citywide. That’s 1,046 additional gangrelated crimes over 2005. Those crimes include 12 additional homicides, 127 additional attempted homicides, 238 additional felony assaults, and 494 additional robberies. Our efforts over the years in determining what crimes are gang-related have been boosted by our intelligence gathering capabilities and by our increasing use of technology. So as we reduced crime overall across the City, we now have the ability to look at the different subsets that make up the total crime picture, and what that picture shows is that gangs continue to be a major contributor to crime in L.A.
Gang violence is an unfortunate reality for the people of Los Angeles. Recent headlines underscore this point, although it comes as no surprise to anyone in law enforcement, or to our media savvy and well-informed public. While Los Angeles is not alone in having a gang problem – many other cities have L.A.-style gangs, though not on the same scale – the difference for us now is that we can bring some of our real time analysis capability to bear on identifying the players and addressing the issue head-on. We’ve got significant intelligence and your tremendous street level experience. As part of our renewed crime and gang crime reduction efforts we are going to focus our attention and resources on certain gangs and individual high activity gang members in an effort to get these predators off the streets of L.A.
We can be proactive and aggressive in targeting gangs and still fulfill our sworn obligation to do so consistently, compassionately and constitutionally. And that is just what we are going to do. We have all had enough of going to crime scenes in the aftermath of gang shootings, seeing the distraught families, and of being shot at, disrespected and endangered. We are going to attempt, with our limited resources, to turn the tide and make it increasingly difficult for these murderers to operate their illegal drug-fueled enterprises on our streets.
As I mentioned in last month’s taped message, we have already begun a fullscale effort directed at the 204th Street Gang in the Harbor Gateway area of the City. We have also increased our efforts in the San Fernando Valley where gang crime and violence has been particularly prevalent, showing an increase of 44 percent over last year. (The gang crime numbers in the valley have been historically much lower than in the South and Central Bureaus.) Together with other local law enforcement agencies and through significantly increased cooperative efforts with the Federal government, we have started a new comprehensive set of initiatives against the gang members with the highest levels of violent assaults against cops and those involved in racial violence. As you know better than anybody, Los Angeles has been terrorized by, victimized by, and made to fear these gangs for far too long.
Our new initiatives are intended to stop the growth of gang crime that we experienced last year and to begin to reduce the overall levels of violence as you had been able to do in the previous four years.
First, we will be launching the South Bureau Criminal Gang Homicide Group. This new LAPD command will bring together over 100 of our most experienced officers and detectives, three full-time assistant district attorneys and ten FBI agents.
Commander Pat Gannon has already been selected as the commanding officer and is currently developing this entity. This innovative organization will focus exclusively on gang-related murders and attempted murders and use both state and federal laws to prosecute, convict and incarcerate the gang members who commit them.
Next we have designated Deputy Chief Gary Brennan as the Department’s Gang Coordinator. In addition to his Chief of Detectives responsibilities, he will be the single point of contact for the Office of the Mayor, other partner agencies, and community groups. He will be responsible for bringing continuity, cohesion, and consistency to the Department’s overall gang-reduction strategy, tapping into the funding and other resources we need.
The third initiative is the placing of an L.A. gang member on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List. The placement of criminal fugitives on the FBI’s list represents the Department’s intention to arrest, prosecute, and incarcerate L.A.’s most notorious gang criminals. This is a big commitment from the FBI. The most wanted list is reserved for the worst criminals including the likes of Osama bin Laden. It demonstrates the FBI’s willingness to assist in dismantling these gangs.
We are also parting with our long held tradition of not naming gangs as part of our public planning and operations. In the past it was felt that naming them elevated their stature in the warped world in which they live and operate.
Our top ten list of the most active and violent gangs will change with some frequency as their activities diminish. Bureau Chiefs will keep the list updated to reflect changing priorities.
In addition, Operations Valley Bureau has already formed a special enforcement group of over 50 officers, motor personnel, and supervisors who will analyze real-time crime data and other information to rapidly and strategically deploy officers in crimeridden regions of the Valley. They will deploy in a variety of configurations including high-visibility patrols and other, less traditional, covert means of apprehending violent criminals.
Citywide we are encouraging a strategy that will allow all patrol officers—with appropriate training and oversight—to more routinely enforce gang injunctions and serve arrest warrants on named gang members. This initiative is designed to take full advantage of your skills and expertise and will increase the Department’s ability to protect law-abiding citizens. You will be the key to our success in this effort by helping to put a full court press on identified gang members.
While you are driving enforcement efforts on the street, we are going to drive legislative efforts by educating State legislators on the need for additional laws to back us up.
Based on our success in joint operations and task forces with other agencies in the Homeland Security arena, we are teaming up in unprecedented ways to share information, enhance relationships, and perform joint operations with our partners from the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department, the FBI, the ATF, the Drug Enforcement Agency, State Parole, County Probation, LA Unified School District Police, and other local municipal police departments.
Since so much of our community is gripped with fear when it comes to the gangs in their midst, we are going to work aggressively to get the word out through publications and seminars that this gang problem is not insurmountable. We can and will be able to work with the public to make their lives more livable by consistently reducing the threat posed by gang violence in their neighborhoods and by improving our efforts to get information from them to help us make arrests.
We are capable of making a difference in this long-standing community problem that has cost so many lives and caused so much misery and divisiveness over the past few decades. I am confident that you will rise to the occasion as you have in the past and deliver on the promise we are making to the hard working lawabiding residents of the City of Los Angeles to reduce the threat of gang violence that they live under each day. You have reduced overall Part One crime and homicides by over 30% during the past five years and I believe we can do the same with gang related crime. Thank you for all you do for the Department and the City.