Monday, July 15, 2013

An Unlikely Partnership Reduces Gang Violence In Los Angeles

Last week there was a great piece in The New York Times that looked at how a unusual partnership between the Los Angeles Police Department and community leaders including former gang members has reduced gang violence in some of the formerly worst LA neighborhoods. 
Causality is slippery, especially when it comes to crime. The L.A.P.D.’s decision to deploy 30 additional officers to Watts’s three largest housing projects has undoubtedly contributed to the area’s improvement. Research has shown that “hot-spot policing” — flooding high-crime areas with police officers — effectively reduces crime without simply displacing it. But the department’s efforts in Watts go beyond “cops on dots.” In recent years, the L.A.P.D. has been conducting an unusual experiment in community policing in Watts. Its centerpiece, the Community Safety Partnership, is the department’s collaboration with a group of residents known as the Watts Gang Task Force. Every Monday morning, community leaders meet with top police commanders to discuss what’s happening in the Watts gang world — who’s feuding with whom, where criminal investigations stand, which are the issues residents are worried about. What makes the initiative unusual is that many of the task force’s participants have close ties to street gangs. Some, like Mendenhall, are former gang leaders. Others are the mothers and grandmothers of notorious gang leaders past and present.

Via The New York Times
It's a long piece but definitely worth the time to read it. The big take away from the story is that it is not possible for traditionally reactive policing methods to tackle persistent crime problems. If they police are viewed as an 'occupying army' and do not have the trust of the community they serve they will fail in their mission.

A community policing mindset is critical to solving these endemic crime problems.

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