Gang Violence Reduction
Letter to Monsignor John Moretta


Arthur A. Jones, J.D., Dr.jur.
Robin Wiseman, J.D., Dr.h.c.

International Human Rights Law and Policy
email to:

October 23rd, 2002

Monsignor John Moretta
Church of the Resurrection
3324 East Opal Street
Los Angeles, CA 90023

Dear Father John,

Further to our recent telephone conversations, and in preparation for the meeting of the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners scheduled to take place at the Church of the Resurrection Tuesday, Oct. 29, the following text summarizes our proposal for a model gang violence reduction and monitoring commission in Boyle Heights.

The model comprises research, presentations, analysis and evaluations of existing and planned programs, and continuous review and comparison of successful anti-gang suppression and intervention teams nationwide and internationally to the extent that their methods and results may be replicated in Boyle Heights.

The approach will divide the subject matter into four basic, overlapping categories:

Community Resources and Partnering;
Evaluation, Assessment and Corrections.

I. Organizational

Assess the threat: including the number of gangs, approximate strength. Estimate their turf sizes or territories using COMPSTAT methods. Locate crime or violence hotspots and their patterns by dates, locations, known offenders, victims, MFO (Most Frequently Occurring) data, other relevant statistics and information.

Next, identify kingpin felons and assess their separate links or conjunctions to the data listed above. Profile their hierarchies and modus operandi, summarize them for inclusion in community meetings, commission-police meetings, CPAB action, other. Research should be designed to answer questions such as: What are the gangs' community resources? What are their chief financial resources? What is the most accurate available inventory of their estimated weaponry? What are the extent and depth of their connections with international drug cartels? Do they have a "children's army"? Can we identify the chief recruiters? How much flux is there in their territorial boundaries? Their membership numbers? How frequently do they leave the boundaries and for what typical periods of time? What percentage of them are "jumped in" for special planned criminal activities? How much grass-roots support do they enjoy in the community? What percentage of the surrounding population are reluctant supporters or on the fringe? Can any of them be enlisted to supply intelligence information?

Assess Police Resources: How many anti-gang enforcement sworn officers have had specialized training and experience and are now available in Boyle Heights full time? Part time? On loan from other divisions? What promises of expansion of force have been made? When? What progress to date? How many High Impact Teams can be fielded on short notice? How many Senior Lead Officers are assigned to concentrate on hotspot areas? How much joint training have they shared with anti-gang and anti-drug units? Do they regularly feature scheduled meetings with parole and probation officers who know the kingpin and supporter felons? What information can we obtain from victims or impacted families? What is the inventory of local legal remedies such as curfews or injunction programs? How narrowly or specifically are they drafted and what are their success rates citywide to date?

II. Operational:

This category includes police-community partnership planning for High Impact Suppression maneuvers. Planning and implementation cooperation will focus on intervention strikes designed to remove gang resources and weaponry, to identify shipment routes and couriers for cash, drugs, weapons, other resources.

This part of the collaborative effort also features risk assessment to determine the aggression rates for planned intervention strikes, and will employ techniques for minimizing collateral damage in the civilian population. Efforts will be on developing and maximizing intelligence reports from parolees and neighborhood sources. Youth counselors, Senior Lead Officers, and other knowledgeable sources will be consulted in joint High-Impact information gathering patrols. Post-op debriefings and feedback analysis will include neighborhood commission members, who will participate also in evaluations and corrections.

III. Community Resources and Partnering:

This phase coordinates the efforts of community resources: Schools, churches, businesses, youth activity services, social services, and others. Together, the members identify causes of gang popularity, such as tradition, social disintegration, demographics, unemployment, educational opportunity deficits, domestic violence in the environment, and many other factors.

Great efforts will be concentrated on planning and holding town meetings; sponsoring anti-tagging teams; intensifying media relations and distribution of information, including the scheduling and broad public notification of participation opportunities. All information will be shared through a central clearing house or community committee that includes Senior Lead Officers, CPAB, specialized units, and appropriate LAPD Command personnel. Together, the combined civilian-police commission for Boyle Heights will process and consolidate intelligence from neighborhood sources, anonymous tips, COMPSTAT data, and other relevant information.

IV. Evaluation, Assessment, Corrections:

After holding introductory or organizational lectures, discussion workshops and interviews, we would suggest question and answer sessions with other agencies such as District Attorney; City Attorney; parole and probation officers; school officials; social services; and many others. Based on the initial responses from all participants, we would research the most successful programs in other cities nationwide that bear the closest similarities to Boyle Heights at each stage of the developing program in terms of size, socio-economic factors, resistance and obstacles to prevention and intervention efforts.

The next stage will be to hold follow-up lectures and workshops to present comparative results from other jurisdictions and to make recommendations based on those results for short and medium term corrections and improvements.

At all stages, there must be a monitoring presence accepted by all partners, which will review intervention operations, analyze intelligence data emerging from combined sources, and propose tactical and strategic corrections and refinements in a consensus-building process with sworn officers, command officer staff, and community commission members.

As of today, a few of the cities with programs that would merit attention and study and which would offer replicable features in Boyle Heights initially include Fresno and Oxnard, California; Houston and Dallas, Texas; Chicago, Illinois; the NYPD "CAGE" units as recently reorganized to adapt to community policing concepts; and newly restructured anti-gang units in Washington, DC; Baltimore, Maryland; Detroit, Michigan; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, among others.

Several major European cities also should be studied for their specific progress in anti-gang intervention, including Rome and Milan, Italy; Zurich, Switzerland; Stockholm, Sweden; Paris, France; and Berlin, Germany. Several major recent studies by the Department of Justice, Office of Justice and Delinquency Prevention, such as those published in 2000 and 2001 on Youth Gangs, Programs and Strategies, will also be described and featured in lectures, discussions and partnership workshops.

The cooperative, interagency training and dialogue will emphasize combining High-Impact Anti-Gang Violence Suppression work with intelligence gathering, close interagency collaboration, and full community policing partnerships to isolate and reduce the social problems giving rise to gang activity and homicidal violence.

We will look forward to working closely with you to achieve our common goal. Once again, let us express our gratitude for your good works and your dedication to ending the continuing tragedies in Boyle Heights.

Sincerely yours,

Arthur A. Jones, J.D., Dr.jur. Robin Wiseman, J.D., Dr.h.c.


--- Arthur A. Jones and Robin Wiseman are international human rights lawyers with legal educations in the United States and Europe. They are consultants and authors on international policing, social policy and human rights, and regular contributors to the forum here at LA Community Policing.

For additional information or a complete list of references, contact:

Dr. Arthur Jones