I am writing to you to express my frustration with your inconsistent editorial policy. On Sept. 26 and 27, and again on Oct. 8, you published editorials expressing outrage over recent gang shootings and a gang homicide. You seemed shocked by the apparent lack of control our community has over gangs and the streets, and expressed the sentiment, “It’s high time that energy was channeled into demanding that our leaders address these problems.”
Well, I am one leader who has aggressively addressed this very problem. In 1988, I initiated Operation: Hammer, a massive, highly visible, uniformed task force to take back the streets from gangs and instill a sense of security in our frightened residents. As a result of our Hammers, gang homicides dropped as hundreds of gang members were arrested because sufficient numbers of officers were deployed on streets, corners and in alleys that would normally go unattended.
However, your editorials at the time were critical and unsupportive, questioning the effectiveness of the Hammers and seeking a “softer” approach to the problem. You and various other special interest groups voiced concern that the Hammers would never solve the gang problem. Time and again I explained that our Hammers were not the ultimate solution, but merely one facet of a full-spectrum approach to the gang problem. Our preventive efforts are embodied in Police Department programs such as Jeopardy, wherein we try to identify “wanna-be” gang members and those on the periphery of the gang environment to provide counseling to both the youngster and the parents; and the DARE program, where we attempt to provide the tools for our youth to resist the peer pressure to engage in drugs or join gangs.
Your recent editorials seem to be crying out for the type of action I took three years ago. Your Oct. 8 editorial acknowledges that security at high school football games could be improved by posting more guards and more police officers on the streets surrounding stadiums to discourage hooligans from driving past and shooting.
The clarity of your insight is refreshing, albeit long overdue. It was upon reality-based insight such as this that our Hammers were founded. However, I cannot help but wonder how long your aggressive, anti-gang editorial policy will remain intact: until our next Hammer?
CHIEF DARYL F. GATES
Los Angeles Police Department