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Rising Gang Activity Reported by Officials in ABC School District

April 13, 1989|LEE HARRIS | Times Staff Writer

CERRITOS — School and police officials warned that gang activity is increasing in the ABC Unified School District, and urged district and city officials to form a gang task force to battle the problem.

"There are five to 10 gangs on every campus at every high school," Sheriff's Deputy Don Vlieger said at a special school board meeting that was called Tuesday night to discuss gang activity. "We have found weapons on every campus this year from Uzis to zip guns," he said. Vlieger is assigned to work on gang problems in the district.

The district has recorded 77 gang-related incidents, such as fighting between gang members, since the beginning of the school year, compared to 70 such incidents for the entire 1987-88 school year, said Jay Wilbur, supervisor of pupil services.

Task Force Favored

Although they did not take a formal vote at the special meeting, the board members said they favored forming a joint task force with officials of the cities served by the 21,000-student district.

"Gangs know no boundaries. They are in our parks, cities and our schools." board member Dixie Primosch said.

The task force would include the seven school board members and elected officials from the cities of Artesia, Cerritos, Hawaiian Gardens and Lakewood.

The board also agreed to consider establishing a strict dress code that would ban gang attire, such as hats and bandannas, and creating a drug and gang prevention program that would be run by a deputy sheriff. Another security officer would be hired to help gang-prevention efforts at junior high schools.

From October through January, gang-related crimes in the four cities included three murders, four attempted murders, 61 narcotics violations and five fights involving rival gangs, Vlieger said.

'Fighting Each Other'

"The gangs are not fighting over dope. They are fighting each other," Vlieger said in an interview. The gangs include students from affluent homes as well as from low-come areas, Vlieger said.

Supt. Larry L. Lucas said he expected school officials to start preliminary meetings with city managers and other representatives next month. He said he hoped the task force would be in place by the start of next school year. "We must break down the jurisdictional boundaries and come up with solutions," he said.

Cerritos Councilman Paul W. Bowlen, who attended the meeting, endorsed the proposal. "This is a mutual problem we face," he said.

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