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It seems the Valley isn't the place to be if you're a gang-affiliated criminal.
One year ago, Mayor Villaraigosa held a press conference in North Hills at the LAPD's Mission Division, mapping out their plan for a crackdown on gangs. This past Thursday he returned, along with Police Chief William Bratton, to the same spot to announce that the plan had been successful. The Daily News reports on Mayor Tony's proud assertion, and 2007 statistics:
"The San Fernando Valley has seen the most dramatic drop in gang homicides," Villaraigosa said outside the Penny Lane Family Center.
San Fernando Valley gang homicides fell nearly 40 percent in 2007 to 29, down from 48 the year before, the Los Angeles Police Department reported.
Overall gang crime was down about 5 percent in the Valley and around 4 percent citywide.
So why the focus on gang-related crimes and the Valley? "Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, whose office has used gang injunctions and targeted gang member hangouts, said the Valley is home to 80 gangs and 20,000 gang members." After seeing a major spike in gang crimes the previous year, law enforcement and city officials created a "50-member violent-crime task force in the Valley" that works in a coordinated effort with other branches of national and local agencies, like the "FBI, probation and parole agents, Immigration and Customs Enforcement" and others. But while some areas are seeing a drop in activity, others are seeing a rise, like Van Nuys, with a reported 25 percent increase. Another major shift is that in gang-member attacks on police officers, which "jumped from 16 to 23 in the Valley, a 44 percent increase. In contrast, gang attacks on officers fell citywide to 89 from 91, the LAPD said." Besides policing areas, the Mayor hopes to continue other long-term programs like his summer work program for youth, and Deputy Chief Michel Moore, commanding officer for the San Fernando Valley, agrees that the answer is not limited to members of law enforcement putting a stop to criminal activity, but that prevention and intervention are viable and worthwhile techniques.