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New effort to curb gang violence

Gang related graffiti is painted on a fence in South Central Los Angeles.

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MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: Today L.A. mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will announce a new effort to curb gang violence. L.A. is the world's epicenter for gang crime. There are more than 700 gangs and 40,000 members here. The mayor and police chief will unveil their strategy in Mission Hills, which saw a 160 percent spike in gang activity last year. But some business leaders question the approach. Marketplace's Jeff Tyler has more.


JEFF TYLER: The mayor's plan will focus on gang suppression, specifically targeting the city's worst gangs.

But civil rights attorney Connie Rice says law enforcement can only go so far.

CONNIE RICE: Suppression alone isn't enough. After 30 years, we have six times as many gangs and twice as many gang members.

Rice just published a study analyzing the effectiveness of existing anti-gang programs. The report calls for more cross-agency coordination and a reevaluation of almost a billion tax dollars being spent now.

That gets the support of Gary Toebben, CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce.

GARY TOEBBEN: Just throwing more money at the problem is not going to be the solution. Being smarter about how we deal with the problem is an essential first step.

The mayor's office says the plan will ultimately include more just than gang suppression. Strategies will be unveiled in the months to come.

No word yet on how the mayor plans to pay for any of it.

In Los Angeles, I'm Jeff Tyler for Marketplace.

About the author

Jeff Tyler is a reporter for Marketplace’s Los Angeles bureau, where he reports on issues related to immigration and Latin America.
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