The mother of Clive Jackson Jr., a 14-year-old boy killed by gang violence, attended Bratton's news conference.
L.A. wants to fight gangs mafia-style
Tuesday, December 3, 2002 Posted: 10:37 PM EST (0337 GMT)
LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- Police Chief William Bratton said Tuesday he will ask federal prosecutors for help in combating the city's street gangs, which he likened to the Mafia.
Bratton, who took over the Los Angeles Police Department a month ago, said he plans to ask U.S. Attorney Debra Yang to use racketeering and tax evasion laws against gang members, some of the same tactics used to combat the Mafia in New York City.
"The Mafia crime families were no more intimidating or impactful than the gangs of Los Angeles," said Bratton, former chief of the New York Police Department.
Bratton, along with Mayor James Hahn, announced the initiative while visiting a police station in South Central Los Angeles, where gang-related killings have soared in recent months.
"We cannot and will not let gangs control these streets," Hahn said.
The city's 617 homicides through December 2, represent a 11 percent increase over all of 2001. During the final two weeks of November, there were 35 homicides.
"If we don't deal with them effectively in Los Angeles, the disease that these gangs represent will spread across this country," said Bratton, who also plans to create a new deputy chief position to oversee all gang-suppression efforts.
Spokesman Thom Mrozek said the U.S. attorney is looking forward to hearing the chief's ideas and "working to improve our existing strategies in dealing with this significant gang problem."
The initiative will not mean mass arrests, but targeted policing, said Assistant Chief Jim McDonnell.
"We don't want to come out like we did in the '80s," McDonnell said, referring to "occupying army" tactics favored by former chiefs. "We're planning a holistic, collaborative approach to the problem."
But one minister who deals with gang members in South Central said the new initiative sounded like others in past decades that did little to stop the growth of gangs in the city.
"You're going to fill up the jail up with them again," said Rev. Nathan Holt, who operates the Love and Respect Youth Organization. "Shouldn't there be some training programs or something else?"