CHILD AND YOUTH CARE NETWORK
21 NOVEMBER 2003
A newly-formed Venice Area Inter-Agency Gang Task Force has been meeting in the Oakwood area of Venice to attempt to mitigate local gang activity.
California: Newly-formed gang task force meeting in Oakwood
The task force has met three times and includes representatives of local gang intervention agencies, local residents, Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officers and city officials.
LAPD Capt. Wallace Graves, commanding officer of the Pacific Area Community Police Station, suggested that a committee be established to serve as a possible mediator between the LAPD or others and the Culver City Boyz — a Hispanic gang. “I would like to establish a calming influence, if that is possible,” Graves said. He added that a meeting in early December will attempt to organize a committee or group to assist in his mediatory request.
Graves said there has been communication between the LAPD and gang members in Oakwood. A jobs committee was also suggested that would seek employment opportunities for at-risk youths.
Sandy Kievman, Los Angeles Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski's Venice area deputy, led a discussion that was designed to focus on a September shooting incident near the Boys & Girls Club of Venice that led to one fatality and four injuries. However, during the discussion, the incident was rarely mentioned. Instead, representatives from gang intervention agencies — some of whom are ex-gang members — LAPD representatives and local residents discussed gang intervention.
Graves said that merely arresting individuals is not the solution. “A bad guy gets arrested and almost immediately he's replaced by a younger bad guy,” said Graves.
“Young people in Oakwood must have some dreams,” Graves said.
A member of Gangsters Anonymous, a 12-step recovery program for gangsters, emphasized the need to change the mentality of those affiliated with gangs, especially after they are released from prison. “Probation helps change the mentality,” he said, adding that probation officers commonly are able to find a job for an ex-convict.
“What's needed is support, not just jobs.” he said. “Lots of us don't have moms and dads.”
A man who works for Venice 2000 — a gang intervention agency — suggested that community business owners attend meetings of this type. He added that it is very difficult for people with felonies to obtain jobs.
LAPD Lt. John Hone of the Pacific Community Police Station said that incidents such as a shooting outside the Boys & Girls Club of Venice can be avoided if security is provided when there is a dance or event and the police are notified so that a police car can patrol the area.
Hone said that frequently when a youth is ejected from a dance or event the youth returns angry and either vandalizes the site, picks a fight, or causes some sort of disturbance — which is what happened Friday, September 5th, when the victims allegedly picked a fight after being denied entrance to a birthday party, fled the scene and became involved with gunfire from a vehicle.
The next meeting for the Venice Area Inter-Agency Gang Task Force is scheduled for Thursday, December 11th, in the Vera Davis Center, 610 California Ave., Venice. Information, Sandy Kievman, (310) 575-8461.
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