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Reclaiming Our Streets

This morning I released a follow-up audit of the City's Comprehensive Citywide Anti-Gang Strategy. I strongly believe that this audit is among the most important I will conduct.
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This morning I released a follow-up audit of the City's Comprehensive Citywide Anti-Gang Strategy. I strongly believe that this audit is among the most important I will conduct, because the safety of our children and communities is the City of Los Angeles is our City's most important responsibility.

Unfortunately, our city has become known as the gang capital of the United States, despite the best efforts of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and community partners. According to the LAPD the City currently has over 400 gangs and nearly 41,000 gang members.

In 2008, the Controller's office completed a report that revealed the City was wasting millions of dollars a year on disparate programs that were supposed to be addressing the gang crisis. The programs were highly disorganized and lacked accountability -- clearly something needed to be done.

The Blueprint for a Comprehensive Citywide Anti-Gang Strategy was created to show a path forward for how the City could reclaim our streets and our children through a strategy of prevention, intervention, and suppression. At the time, I was still serving on the City Council, and I introduced a proposal to consolidate all Anti-Gang programs into a coordinated office, which was created in 2008.

The Blueprint made about 100 recommendations, one of them being that the Controller's Audit Division conduct periodic follow-up audits. The audit I released today is the second follow-up, and the results give me mixed feelings: I am happy to see the progress the Mayor's Office of Gang Reduction and Youth Development (GRYD) has made, but am disappointed that there is no way to measure the success of this progress, which I believe is vital if we are to continue putting our efforts to fighting against gang violence.

As I said, progress has indeed been made. My audit found that 52% of the original 109 recommendations have been implemented or are no longer relevant, and 47% are either partially implemented of still in progress. In fact, only one recommendation has not been implemented. Efforts such as the Summer Night Lights Program are clearly successful and heartening to hear about -- but that is not enough.

We still need to measure the success of the GRYD in other areas, and that is where the office has fallen short. While the recommendations have been implemented for laying a strong foundation for a comprehensive anti-gang strategy, the office and their contractor the Urban Institute have not provided any evaluation of GRYD's overall efforts. Nearly a year and a half and $525,000 in taxpayer funds have been wasted, and little progress has been made to provide measurable outcomes.

GRYD needs to provide more oversight because our City needs to know without a doubt that these programs are working and that we truly are making progress. Starting today, we must redouble our efforts to rid our City of the plague of gang violence.

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