Ah, the world if full of ironies. One day following the City Council Mansoor-led majority's decision to ignore the advice and counsel of their top law enforcement officers and trash can the intervention and prevention elements of the CMPD's gang initiative, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced a sweeping new initiative in that city which includes - here it comes, folks - a significant element dedicated to intervention and prevention!
According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, Villaraigosa's plan was applauded by Los Angeles Police Chief William J. Bratton. Bratton is quoted as saying this about the plan, developed in concert with police, gang experts and neighborhood leaders, "Mayor Villaraigosa's $168 million for gang prevention and intervention is the vital component missing from the city's gang plan."
In the article Villaraigosa is quoted as saying, "Take it from a former high school dropout: Fighting gangs is fundamentally a question of putting people on a path to a productive life."
Hello! That's precisely what Chief Christopher Shawkey and Captain Ron Smith attempted to tell the council last Tuesday night. When asked specifically whether, in their best professional opinion, resolving the gang problem in Costa Mesa was possible without the intervention/prevention elements of their proposal, both men replied unequivocally that it was not. Using Captain Smith's analogy, no matter how fast you drain the tub of gang-bangers, unless you turn off the spigot to stop the flow of new members into the tub, you will never win the battle. And yet, in a snit about how the Newport-Mesa Unified School District manages it's money, the Three Stooges who form the majority on the council gave our top cops the stiff arm and rejected that part of their proposal. They also dismissed, without debate, any consideration of the Truancy Ordinance that was included in the CMPD's proposal.
I don't know Antonio Villaraigosa, but I do know that he's an effective politician. His ideology, in a broad sense, is far from mine. It wouldn't surprise me if he becomes the next Governor of this state. I do know Chief Bratton, though, and respect his skills as one of the top law enforcement officials in this country. I agree with Bratton that this proposal is a giant step in the right direction for the City of Los Angeles, and the entire southern California region.
The timing of Villaraigosa's announcement couldn't have been better - unless your name is Allan Mansoor, Eric Bever or Wendy Leece. It emphatically points out the lack of understanding of the problem by our city council majority. Our young jailer/mayor continues to display an amazing lack of understanding of actual law enforcement, despite being a Deputy Sheriff for fourteen years. Bever seems intent on righting wrongs he experienced as a whippersnapper, growing up in a gang-infested neighborhood. Whatever affronts he experienced as a kid - maybe he was harassed about his pigtail hairdo - he seems determined to take it out on the budding Costa Mesa gangs by authorizing only ramped-up use of force instead of a plan designed to seriously address the deeper issue of how to nip the gang growth in the bud - by intervening with the at-risk kids in their early school years.
Leece, who seemed to be sympathetic to the intervention plan during the discussions, turned out to be merely pathetic as she read her prepared statement before the vote. Obviously, these three "leaders" have no interest in hearing from residents nor their senior staff - they already have their minds made up before they get to the meetings.
Like Bever, I, too, grew up in a part of Los Angeles that had a significant gang population. That part of the city was the focus in a recent series done by the Los Angeles Times. The predominant gang way back then was Los Avenues, which is still the largest gang in Los Angeles. It is now in it's fourth generation of gang-bangers - a systemic problem no matter how you cut it.
In their presentation before the council Chief Shawkey and Captain Smith said that Costa Mesa's gang problem is not "generational". The word that was missing was "yet". If nothing is done to divert the young people at risk from becoming gang members I fear we will be seeing the same kind of generational infestation in Costa Mesa that Los Angeles is currently attempting to resolve.
Residents of this city should put pressure on the council majority to re-consider their rejection of the intervention/prevention element of the CMPD's proposal. The majority should get over their snit with the NMUSD and do what is right for this city, instead of fanning the flames of discontent. I stated in an earlier post that I thought they actually wanted a gang problem in this city to help meet their broader goal of the removal of all Latinos from our borders. One way for them to prove me wrong is to institute the intervention/prevention element and let the police do their job.