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Business Watch to Focus on Gang Issues

An officer from the Van Nuys Division’s Jeopardy program will talk about gang awareness and gang diversion at tonight’s monthly meeting of the Sepulveda / Van Nuys Blvd. Business Watch.

And Officer David Ham will come armed with some shocking new state statistics: There are 58,000 known gang members in the city of Los Angeles, and another 25,000 taggers.

Los Angeles County accounts for more than half of California’s known 330,000 gang members.

Ham will advise the attending business members of what gang members typically look like, and talk about trends in gang activity.

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“It will basically inform [attendees] of what’s happening in their area and in their society,” he said.

To keep at-risk youth out of gangs, the Mid-Valley Jeopardy program offers after-school activities including games, aerobics and in-line skating attended by more than 1,000 youngsters in late elementary and middle school.

According to Flip Smith, who heads the business watch, knowledge of gangs and taggers is essential to business owners.

“When you have gangs, you have graffiti, and graffiti is the perception of crime,” Smith said.

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“Whether an area is safe or not, graffiti gives the perception of being unsafe. And you can’t have a business community if people don’t feel safe.”

The hourlong meeting is free and open to all interested business owners.

It will take place at Economy Office Furniture, 6300 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Van Nuys.

For information, call Smith at (818) 786-8686.

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