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CHIEF’S MESSAGE March 2009

For 140 years the Los Angeles Police Department has proudly served the City of Los Angeles.  As our yearlong anniversary festivities continue, we dedicate the month of March to the legendary women of the LAPD.  This month, we celebrate their achievements and the contributions they have made throughout the years.  We pay homage to our pioneers: Alice Stebbins Wells, the nation’s first policewoman, Terri Lincoln, the Department’s first female command pilot, and Assistant Chief Sharon Papa, the highest ranking female officer in the LAPD.  And we pay tribute to the selfless heroes who dedicated their lives to protect and to serve: Tina Frances Kerbrat, the first female LAPD officer to die in the line of duty, and most recently, Officer Spree Desha and injured Officer Kristina Ripatti.  We applaud these women for their contributions and thank them for paving the way for future generations.  Each serves as an inspiration to female officers around the world and is a significant and poignant part of the great legacy of our Department.

2009 Gang Initiatives

At a recent news conference, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and I announced our 2009 Gang Initiatives.  Over the past year alone, thanks in large part to your hard work, gang homicides dropped 25% and gang crime declined overall by 10%.  This year, I have no doubt that you will be able to continue the trend.  Chief Earl Paysinger and Charlie Beck have set a stretch goal of a further 15% overall reduction in gang crimes.  Nobody knows better than you the negative impact of gangs that for far too long have plagued our City, terrorized our neighborhoods and instilled fear in our residents.  In 2009, we will partner with our Federal, State, County and local law enforcement agencies to create a seamless web thoroughly committed and focused on dramatically impacting the violence caused by those gangs whose violent act draws attention and coordinated law enforcement response.  If they stick their heads up, if they raise their profile and levels of violence, we will move quickly to arrest and incarcerate them.  Building on the trust we continually earn from the communities we serve, we will increasingly work together with many in those communities to keep control of the streets.  You have shown with your dramatic positive impact on crime and gang activities that cops count, police matter.

Prevention

This year will also see a strengthening of the City’s prevention efforts.  Mayor Villaraigosa has pledged to direct resources to the communities most in need.  From the expansion of the highly successful Summer Night Lights program to juvenile intervention programs and other alternative options for at-risk youth, we will help parents and caregivers recognize the early warning signs of gang involvement and provide them viable options to redirect their children away from a life of crime.

Intervention

As you have heard many in law enforcement say before, we cannot arrest our way out of gangs.  Suppression is often necessary, but suppression alone will not ultimately succeed.  Intervention is crucial to the rescue of those already involved and is an extremely valuable tool in the reduction of crime.  For the first time, under the control of the Mayor, the intervention, prevention and many of the re-entry strategies will be directed and coordinated in his office.  Gang intervention training will be provided to officers who deal with gang crime as part of their normal assignment and a supervisor in each geographic bureau will be designated as the liaison between the officers of the respective bureau and a gang intervention agency.  

The Department will work to support Reverend Jeff Carr and the Office of Gang Reduction and Youth Development to ensure intervention workers receive timely and accurate information whenever a violent gang incident occurs.  Reverend Carr has made great strides in bridging the credibility gap for gang intervention workers and he will have the Department’s full cooperation and support in the development of the Gang Intervention Academy.  

Suppression

Based on our significant success to date, we know that we can significantly reduce gang activity through innovative and effective law enforcement strategies.  By concentrating on coordination of strategies, tactics, resources, and improved timely intelligence, we can expand the lines of communication with our law enforcement colleagues.  The blurring of jurisdictional lines, which used to be a disadvantage for law enforcement, is now a significant and intentional advantage.  Federal, State and local agencies will work together to determine not only what we need for a successful prosecution, but also which jurisdiction can get the toughest sentence.  Other local police departments such as the Los Angeles Unified School Police, for example, can be of particular assistance in areas such as intelligence gathering, infrastructure protection, and truancy enforcement.  Every agency will have a role.

Through coordination comes efficiency.  Not only do we continually look to improve outside relationships, we took a good look in the mirror and figured out how we could do it better from the inside.  Earlier this year, the Department combined Gang Operations Support Division and Narcotics Division to create the Gang and Narcotics Division.  Recognizing the link between gangs, guns and drugs, this new Division, under the command of Deputy Chief Charlie Beck, will unite 300 detectives specifically focused on the reduction of narcotics and gun trafficking.  

I also recently promoted Michael Williams to the newly designated Strategic Operations Commander position under the Office of Operations.  In as much as over 60 % of gang crime occurs at night, Commander Williams will be assigned during the evening hours and will work with RACR to identify gang trends or incidents as they occur and move resources quickly throughout the City to address them.  

This year, you will see the continuation of successful programs such as the Top Ten Gang Members and Top-Targeted Street Gangs.  We will continue to work with the Mayor and City Attorney’s office to seek permanent injunctions against the most violent gangs and expand our Community Law Enforcement and Recovery sites and Gang Reduction and Youth Development Zones as necessary.  In addition, the Department will conduct COMPSTAT inspections of every Department entity responsible for Gang Enforcement and will focus a part of each COMPSTAT session on the reduction of gang crime.

In the coming months, an additional 400 officers will receive specialized training in gang history, culture and trends and each of the Area Gang Enforcement Details will have the ability to assign additional personnel to gang enforcement duties as needed.  Assistant Chief Paysinger has tasked each Operations Bureau Chief to design a set of proposals that will address gang problems specific to their individual commands.  This will allow each Bureau the opportunity to modify their gang prevention approach in accordance to their area’s particular needs.

Understanding the critical nature of timely intelligence gathering, Area Watch Commanders will now have the ability to share gang crime information in “real time” with their counterparts in all geographic areas throughout the City through the use of a Secure Gang Blog.  As the program expands, qualifying outside agencies will also be allowed access.

Not only will we target the gangs’ neighborhoods, we will also go after their vehicles.  The Violent Crime Motor Enforcement Team will be a cadre of 30 motor officers deployed in high crime areas throughout the City dedicated to the enforcement of vehicle code violations, to help reduce the number of drive by shootings and other major assaults that occur in gang-infested areas.  They will continually be supplied with information from RACR relative to gang vehicles used in crimes and known to be in possession of gang members.

In 2009, the Department will also work aggressively to reduce gang graffiti.  Assistant Commanding Officer of Detective Bureau, Commander Patrick Gannon, will have additional new responsibilities as coordinator for the Department’s anti-graffiti efforts.

We will also actively engage more with our communities.  Where gangs have relied on fear to keep people from talking to the police, we will offer more ways for people to safely report crimes anonymously either through cell phone texting, the internet or toll free calls.  The Community will also be asked to help us get more guns off the streets.  In partnership with the Mayor and the Sheriff’s Department, the Department will assist with a Gifts for Guns program.  At strategic times throughout the year, gift cards will be exchanged for guns “no questions asked.”  The Sheriff’s Department had great success with this program in 2008.

Re-Entry

When a gang member wants out of a life of crime, the Department and the Office of the Mayor will be there to provide that opportunity.  We will continue to support the Office of Gang Reduction and Youth Development’s initiatives and will work on the expansion of re-entry programs already being conducted at Operations-South Bureau and other parts of the City.  

The Department will continue to convene the Executive Ad Hoc Committee on Gangs as a means to evaluate our collaborative gang reduction efforts.  Decision-makers from all our law enforcement partners will continually examine and refine enforcement initiatives to ensure program effectiveness.

The LAPD’s 2009 Gang Initiatives are the most comprehensive effort ever in the history of this Department and will ultimately serve as the national model for how to deal with gangs and gang violence, how to keep them from growing and getting started in the first place.  

I have no doubt that you, the men and women of this Department, will continue to make a difference in the communities we protect and serve.  Gangs are a way of life in LA, and we will never totally get rid of them.  But we are sending each and every one of them this message…if you choose to continue to engage in violence, the LAPD and its partners will go after you – effectively, efficiently and relentlessly.  How do we know we can reduce their violence and their impact?  Just look at the reduction in gang violence over the last several years.  That didn’t just happen.  You made it happen.

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