First things first

first_imgNO need to applaud Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Police Chief William Bratton’s plan to deploy 50 more cops to the San Fernando Valley to quell gang violence. It’s great to have some extra police support in the area, but it should have been here long ago. In fact, the reason Valley gang-related homicides jumped 30 percent in 2006 is, first and foremost, about policing. The Los Angeles Police Department doesn’t have enough cops and faces more crises than it’s equipped to handle, frequently shifting cops out of the Valley to other hot spots. And when the police were gone, the gangs took over. So now Bratton and Villaraigosa pledge to give the Valley some help. The decision is part of a broader gang-suppression strategy that includes training 5,000 officers in anti-gang tactics, establishing a gang homicide unit in South L.A., and publicly identifying the most dangerous gangs and their members. All of which is important – as far as it goes. The increased police presence in the Valley ought to reverse the spike in gang violence – 160 percent last year in the Mission Division, more than 40 percent Valley-wide – but it won’t make a difference over time unless dramatic other steps are taken. It’s well-established that shifting resources around helps to address inequities, but it does nothing to resolve the LAPD’s underlying lack of manpower. And while the greater suppression can halt the alarming increase in gang violence, it alone is insufficient to quell the gang epidemic, which existed long before the recent spike. Villaraigosa says his new suppression effort is the first part of a broader anti-gang strategy that will also include prevention and intervention. As it should – it will take a lot more than just policing to eradicate the gang culture. But we’ll save our applause for when Villaraigosa releases the rest of the plan and discloses how he’s going to pay for it without new taxes. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more