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Gates' Snub of Anti-Gang Task Force

January 02, 1994

* Prior to retiring as a Parks and Recreations administrator for Los Angeles County, I was an active member of the Los Angeles County Interagency Gang Task Force.

Membership in the task force consisted of many jurisdictions, including representatives from the Probation Department, district attorney's office, Los Angeles Sheriff's Department, Los Angeles Police Department, Parks and Recreation, school districts, Youth Gang Services, Board of Supervisors, city councils and various other community-based agencies and organizations.

The task force meets on a monthly and as-needed basis and maintains a united goal of reducing gang-related activities. It also has many other responsibilities such as identifying and tracking gang members and printing publications that educate the public. It has been a very successful and much-needed program that has earned support and respect from communities throughout Los Angeles County.

One of the major reasons for the success of the program (has been) the personal commitment and leadership role of (Los Angeles County) Sheriff Sherman Block. He mandates active participation from all of his substations as well as his gang-specialist units. He has demonstrated support to the task force by utilizing the full resources of his department.

I was very surprised to learn from recent articles in The Times ("O.C. Orders In Strike Teams to Quell Gangs" Dec. 15) that Orange County Sheriff Brad Gates chose not to participate in the Orange County Gang Task Force or the strike teams designed to "quell gangs."

If Sheriff's Gates' decision not to participate is politically motivated or because he doesn't want to share the spotlight with Dist. Atty. Michael R. Capizzi's office, then he is shortchanging not only other participating police departments, but the citizens of Orange County.

Sheriff Gates, no man is an island. If you have a good reason for choosing not to participate in this much-needed program, we would certainly like to know about it.

WILLIAM de la GARZA

Westminster

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