City council cracks down on gangs
Mayor, police to increase patrols, funding
Under a series of motions introduced Thursday by the Los Angeles City Council, gang members who use guns to commit crimes could be evicted from apartments and have their vehicles seized.
The announcement was made at a press conference held on the steps of city hall and is part of a proposal between local and federal law enforcement to rid the Southland of gang- and gun-related violence.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced that the initiatives are part of his overall plan to reduce gang violence and that beginning July 1, his office will oversee all of the city’s anti-gang programs.
According to police statistics, 306 of the 394 homicide victims in the city were killed with a firearm and another 1,995 Angelenos were shot but survived.
Ninety-three percent of gang-related murders are committed with a gun, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
“If you engage in violent acts with guns, you’re not going to be allowed to drive a vehicle without that vehicle being seized,” police Chief William Bratton said. “If you engage in violent acts with guns in Los Angeles as a gang member, we’re going to take your apartment, we’re going to kick your family out and we’re going to give you a new residence–and your residence will be a 12-by-8 cell with somebody you might not want to be in the cell with.”
Councilmen Jack Weiss and Greg Smith introduced the series of motions intended to strengthen the city’s existing gun laws which would ban the possession of 50 caliber ammunition, require the licensing of ammunition vendors, and require face-to-face ammunition sales to prevent city residents from purchasing bullets over the Internet.
Two other motions would require gun owners to maintain inventories and ban the installation of gun compartments in vehicles.
“Too many Los Angeles neighborhoods and families are caught in the crossfire of gang and gun crime, and it’s time for a more aggressive measures to stop the violence,” Weiss said. “Communities have a right to strategic gun laws to support LAPD’s daily fight to combat gang crime.”
To combat gangs, Mayor Villaraigosa said he plans to expand the CLEAR program--a multi-agency gang intervention program that will target five city areas most aversely affected by gangs.
Police presence will be increased with the addition of 40 police officers to those targeted neighborhoods.
The council will release $2.7 million to expand the program and accepted a motion from City Councilman Richard Alarcon to allocate $600,00 for gang intervention services between July 1 and Sept. 30.
“We have already seen the rise of violence that comes from the summer months and we do not have the luxury of waiting--the time for action is now,” Alarcon said. “May is the month of Mother’s Day and this funding will help ensure that fewer mothers will have to receive the devastating news that their son or their daughter was shot during a senseless act of violence.”