Intervention, Prevention and Suppression Programs Having Positive Effect on Reducing Gang Violence in City of Duarte
After a series of gang shootings in late 2007, early 2008 in the cities and unincorporated county areas of Duarte and Monrovia – Duarte and Monrovia have decided on complementary but different paths in search of a long-term solution to reduce gang violence.
Monrovia and the County of Los Angeles have recently initiated a gang injunction that will make it illegal for identified gang members to engage in certain activities in designated “safe zone” areas.
Duarte intends to continue utilizing its strong arsenal of intervention, prevention and suppression activities to combat gang violence, and programs that effectively target youth and young adults with positive alternatives to the gang lifestyle.
“After careful consideration, the City of Duarte has decided not to implement a gang injunction,” said City Manager Darrell George.
“We are satisfied that our Public Safety and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department staffs have been successful in dealing with problems caused by gangs in our community as documented by the latest FBI crime statistics,” added George.
Duarte intends to ensure continued cooperation and communication among the agencies. This past week Mayors, City Managers and respective law enforcement heads from both cities met to discuss how to continue the agencies positive working relationship despite the differences in enforcement strategies. Both cities have had a history of cooperatively working together on many common issues and fully expect this to continue in the future.
Duarte’s efforts to combat gang violence have been successful in helping to keep gang violence and gang associated crime down over the past few years. In addition to employing the services of a full time Special Assignment Deputy whose sole duty is gang investigation, strategies include monthly parole compliance searches conducted in cooperation with the California Department of Corrections and Parole and monthly probation searches carried out in cooperation with the Los Angeles Department of Probation.
To date, these monthly probation, parole searches and ongoing patrols have resulted in 360 arrests, and a significant increase in the confiscation of both weapons and drugs since the uptake in gang activity started in late 2007.
Keeping a heavy watch and pressure on known felons has made a difference in significantly reducing the number of Part 1 Crimes that include homicide, rape, robbery, vehicle burglary, grand theft, auto theft, and arson. Robbery is at an all time low, as is grand theft and auto theft. The only spike has been residential burglaries, up 30%, a national trend that law enforcement relates to the economic situation.
Duarte has also continued to increase its outreach efforts to elementary school, middle school, and high school age students and young adults through dozens of mentoring, sports, and workforce programs, as part of its multi-pronged approach to combating the gang problem.
Working to break cycles is an important focus of the City’s anti-gang strategy.
The Gang Alternative Prevention Program (GAPP) enlists a full time probation officer to facilitate and work with outreach consultants at each of the City’s elementary schools, focusing on families that have gang membership in the family.
Mentoring programs such as D.A.R.T, the Duarte Area Resource Team, a volunteer and career mentoring program for high school age students with 60 members, and CHYLL, Cardinals Helping Youth Live Lives, at Northview Middle School with 45 members, are also making a difference by involving youngsters in community service and helping to instill in them higher educational goals.
Other youth programs having a positive effect on young lives are the Duarte Youth Boxing Club with 60 members and monthly Teen Cultural Awareness programs offered at the Duarte Teen Center that usually attract as many 30 teens a session.
In conjunction with the Foothill Workforce Investment Board, and with funds provided by a California Gang Reduction Intervention Grant (Cal-GRIP), the City identified and found part-time employment in local businesses plus enrichment programming for 14 at-risk teens. This past summer over 35 youth and young adults were employed through a similar effort.
“Duarte will maintain these and other comprehensive strategies to address gang violence and implement other services as needed to make our combined areas safe and enjoyable for all our residents,” said George. “Should the need arise to discuss an injunction at a later time, the Duarte City Council and I will not hesitate to review the matter at that time,” he said.