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LAGUNA HILLS | Community News Focus

City Drops Out of County Gang Suppression Program

June 14, 1996|FRANK MESSINA

With only two gang members on probation in the city, the City Council decided this week that $18,000 was too much to spend on a county gang suppression program.

On a 4-1 vote, the council dropped Laguna Hills from a regional program run by the county probation department.

Council members indicated they would like to see the $18,000 formerly earmarked for the program reinvested in the Sheriff Department's gang prevention activities. But they gave no specific instructions to the city staff.

Since 1991, the probation department has assigned a caseworker to deal specifically with gang members in four South County cities, including Laguna Niguel, San Juan Capistrano and Dana Point, which shared costs for the program equally.

With only two of approximately 55 cases in the four cities belonging to Laguna Hills, Council member Melody Carruth thought the city was not getting its money's worth.

"We are paying much more than our fair share," Councilman Joel T. Lautenschlager said.

"Obviously, other cities are benefiting far more from this program."

Mayor Randal J. Bressette unsuccessfully pressed the council to continue funding the gang suppression program.

"Laguna Hills is sitting in the middle" of the other cities in the program, he said. "All of the cities have gang issues. To say Laguna Hills does not need to worry and assist those that surround us on this issue is tantamount to sticking our heads in the sand."

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