The Board of Supervisors Tuesday directed county staffers to re-evaluate anti-gang tactics employed over the last two decades under a partnership with the Los Angeles Police Department.
Supervisors Hilda Solis and Sheila Kuehl proposed taking a second look at the Community Law Enforcement and Recovery program, known as CLEAR.
“We need to have more inclusivity,” Solis said.
Kuehl said she was reminded of outdated efforts to solve student truancy by handing out tickets to offenders, rather than looking at the underlying issues driving absences.
Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said the multi-agency program — aimed at “recovery of gang-infested communities” — was adopted in 1997, when he was a Los Angeles City Council member.
But based on a recent rise in gang violence and the fact that more than half of the city’s homicides are believed to be gang-related, Ridley-Thomas said it was time to reconsider whether CLEAR was working.
“The default (of CLEAR) is not prevention. The default is not intervention. The default is not re-entry. It’s suppression,” Ridley-Thomas said, adding that the funds might be better used for intervention or restorative justice programs.
Under the program, police presence in gang neighborhoods was stepped up and officers focused on arresting gang members. Armed probation officers ride along and participate in search and seizures and special operations targeting gang members.
The agencies share gang intelligence.
Supervisor Don Knabe asked why none of the CLEAR units, which sit in nine LAPD divisions, are based out of sheriff’s stations.
As discussion ensued, it seemed Knabe knew the answer.
“There was a different chief and a different sheriff that were having a little battle at the time,” Knabe said.
Sherman Block was sheriff at the time the program was initiated and was succeeded the following year by Lee Baca. Former LAPD Chief Willie Williams left his post in May 1997 and was replaced by Bernard Parks before the year was out.
The county currently receives $267,000 in federal and city funding for CLEAR, which offsets 15 percent of the department’s cost, according to interim Probation Chief Cal Remington.
Staffers were directed to look at how CLEAR sites were chosen, analyze the results and assess whether the program is consistent with the most recent research on effective gang intervention.
CLEAR is one of many programs aimed at reducing gang violence in Southern California.
— City News Services
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