Chief, D.A. take steps to reduce rise in violent crimes

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Wave Wire Services

LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles County’s top prosecutor and the chief of the Los Angeles Police Department said they are hoping to begin to see a decline in violence within a few months as a result of a more proactive approach, including a program to embed prosecutors and investigators from the District Attorney’s Office in four LAPD divisions.

Since the first quarter of 2020, violent crime has been going up nationwide,” District Attorney George Gascón said June 30. “We’re increasingly seeing more and more cases of violence. We’re seeing more mass shootings and, interestingly enough, it really doesn’t matter what the political orientation of the jurisdiction is. We’re seeing it in red cities, blue cities, red counties, blue counties.

“Unquestionably, we have a problem with violence in our communities and our country and it’s much deeper than anything that law enforcement or prosecutors can do,” Gascón added.

He said public safety strategies have traditionally been “reactive and reactionary instead of proactive and preventive,” and that history has shown that “law enforcement cannot address violence alone.”

We cannot arrest our way out of this problem, just like we cannot prosecute our way out of this problem,” Gascón said, adding that he learned early in his law enforcement career that “we did our best when we had community support and when community was part of the solution.”

The new program will operate initially out of the LAPD’s Foothill, Newton, 77th and Mission stations, with the goal for it to eventually be expanded throughout the county, Gascón said.

We have embedded both prosecutors and D.A. investigators to work closely with police and [the] community and by doing so we hope to intervene earlier as we interact with our community,” the district attorney said.

We’re looking forward to those moments where we can identify a young person that maybe needs some help and may be able to provide that intervention so that we can alter the trajectory for that young person and others before they harm someone or someone harms them.”

Gascón noted that “police will continue to arrest individuals who commit violent crimes” and that his office will continue to prosecute those cases.

Chief Michel Moore said he believes that approach “strengthens public safety” and enables authorities to focus on identifying finite resources on “those individuals that are preying upon others in our community” coupled with effective intervention from “peacemakers” outside law enforcement.

The LAPD chief said he looks forward “to a summer that we begin to see a reduction in our violence through initiatives such as this.”

Skipp Townsend, founder and CEO of the violence intervention nonprofit organization 2nd Call, said, “What we want to do as a collective, as a body right here is not to see everyone go to jail, not to see everyone go to prison, not to see our community members dying in the streets, but how can we prevent it?”

He said he is hopeful that the effort will “save some lives.”

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