Warning that there is no "quick fix" for the escalating problem of youth gangs in Los Angeles, Mayor Tom Bradley's task force on gangs has recommended a broad-based program of law enforcement, additional legislation and educational programs to combat the violence.
In a report to be delivered to the mayor today and obtained by The Times on Thursday, the panel of law officers, social workers, civic and political leaders called for a strengthening of existing law enforcement and social agencies with increased funding and manpower.
The group suggested that "a permanent and independent body" be set up to coordinate a massive effort against gangs and stressed the need "to lower a community's tolerance for crime, criminals and those who profit indirectly from crime."
The report endorsed the efforts of groups such as Neighborhood Watch, We Tip, the Guardian Angels and local block clubs "to maintain or retake their homes and neighborhoods."
Expanded Youth Programs
It called for expanded recreational, cultural and leisure programs for young people, along with the establishment in the city attorney's office of a "hard core" gang unit, similar to that already in place in the Los Angeles county district attorney's office.
Also suggested by the panel--which was established by Bradley last November after increasing incidents of gang violence--was the creation of "a media task force" to "reduce the glorification of gangs" and to inform the public about what can be done to fight the problem.
The report also calls for a wide range of new legislation that would:
- Increase to one year the maximum sentence for juveniles who violate terms of their probation for prior offenses.
- Make it more difficult for gang members convicted of a felony to be released from jail on bail while their convictions are appealed.
- Make it a felony to carry a concealed weapon or threaten a police informer.
- Permit courts to sentence juveniles between the ages of 16 and 18, who have been convicted of murder with special circumstances, to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
- Make it a misdemeanor for owners or their real estate agents to knowingly rent or sell a dwelling for the purpose of manufacturing or selling drugs.
- Provide for the forfeiture of vehicles used by gang members in violent felonies.
- Provide that a second conviction for vandalism involving graffiti carry a mandatory two-day jail sentence.
- Increase the punishment for possession of cocaine.
- Authorize judicially approved wiretaps.
- Develop an amendment to the state Constitution providing that grand jury-indicted felony suspects will not be entitled to a preliminary hearing.
- Require that automobile dealers request verification of income before selling vehicles to persons who pay cash. Dealers would also have to notify the Internal Revenue Service of such sales.
- Encourage private business and industry to employ young people by means of tax or insurance incentives and government subsidies.
- Hold parents accountable for contributing to the delinquency of a minor if their children repeatedly violate curfew laws.
- Establish uniform curfew laws throughout the state.