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Guns' crooked paths to Compton's streets

January 23, 2007|Megan Garvey | Times Staff Writer

The task force made 1,622 arrests, 959 of them on felony charges. It executed 301 search warrants and worked closely with probation and parole officers assigned to Compton.

The sheriff said Monday that he plans to keep the task force, which is paid for with county funds, in place for "a long time."

"When you have a crisis in any part of Los Angeles," Baca said, "it's absolutely irresponsible not to respond."

His goal: "There is no longer a significant gang problem in Compton."

Baca had moved several dozen gang suppression deputies and detectives as well as a narcotics team and homicide detectives to Compton a year ago, even though the city had no additional funds to increase services.

Since 2000, Compton has contracted with the sheriff for law enforcement, a move made by then-Mayor Omar Bradley, who said the police force was too costly to maintain.

When task force personnel were shifted back to other areas at midyear without the sheriff's knowledge, the city and nearby unincorporated areas experienced seven homicides in eight days.

In 2006, Compton had only 13 homicides through early July and had been on a pace to set the lowest number of killings in a generation.

"It was a mistake," Baca said of the task force's temporary removal. "It showed how quickly the guns and the gangs and the drugs and the racial hatred will return if you leave. We learned the hard way."

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megan.garvey@latimes.com

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