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Rewards urged for key gang arrests

February 17, 2007|Patrick McGreevy | Times Staff Writer

A week after the Los Angeles Police Department identified its 10 most wanted street gangsters, two City Council members proposed Friday that rewards of up to $50,000 be offered for information leading to the capture and conviction of the fugitives.

The proposal, by Councilmen Tony Cardenas and Jose Huizar, must be approved by the full council.

Cardenas said the suspects "represent an ongoing threat to the safety of the people of Los Angeles," justifying the rewards, which would be for information leading to the solution of the crimes they are charged with in the fugitive warrants.

Police Chief William J. Bratton released the top-10 list as part of a new strategy to combat a 14% rise in gang violence. Bratton was not available for comment Friday; aides said he was leaving for a terrorism conference in Ireland.

Later in the day, members of the council's ad hoc committee on gang violence and youth development agreed to launch another evaluation of current prevention and intervention programs.

They also agreed to create a steering committee to oversee budgetary and organizational decisions in establishing a new approach to the gang problem.

Only Cardenas and Councilwoman Janice Hahn showed up for Friday's meeting of the five-member committee.

Councilmen Herb Wesson Jr., Ed Reyes and Bill Rosendahl were absent.

Cardenas and Hahn supported continuation of service levels for existing programs judged effective and consideration of new programs and additional services in future budget years.

Hahn said she wants a decision on reorganizing and properly budgeting prevention and intervention programs by February 2008 so there is time to go to voters with a parcel tax to help fund programs.

But the councilwoman, whose South L.A. district is one of the heaviest-hit by gang violence, opposed creation of a new department on gang issues to be headed by a gang czar as recommended in a recent study by the Advancement Project of Los Angeles.

Most voters would probably prefer to see money go to programs "and not to a bureaucracy at City Hall," Hahn said.

The Advancement Project report concluded that the existing 23 anti-gang programs funded with $82 million annually by the city are not working because of a lack of focus, coordination and resources.

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