City Moves to Expand Anti-Gang Operation

The Los Angeles City Council moved Wednesday to expand a specialized anti-gang initiative into three new areas, including the Los Angeles Police Department's Devonshire Division.

The unanimous vote urged Mayor Richard Riordan to approve a $12-million grant package for the Community Law Enforcement and Recovery program (CLEAR), a 2-year-old initiative that combines the efforts of the LAPD's anti-gang unit with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's homicide experts.

The CLEAR program receives the coordinated backing of city and county attorneys specifically assigned to prosecute serious crimes as well as vandalism, probation violations and nuisance complaints.

Lt. Joe Eddy of the Devonshire Division said his station would concentrate its CLEAR program on the Panorama City and North Hills corridor areas.

"This is going to allow us to better concentrate our policing on specific areas and we're very excited because it has proven successful in other areas," Eddy said.

The grant package combines $9 million from the state and $3 million from the U.S. Department of Justice.

A CLEAR program is now in operation in the LAPD's Foothill Division, where officials say it has been responsible for a crackdown on gangs in the Blythe Street and Langdon Street areas.

Fifth District Councilman Mike Feuer, who sits on the public safety panel that authorized the motion, hailed CLEAR's "comprehensive approach" to fighting gang problems. He said having a team of lawyers and police from different agencies all working toward the same goal was "the most effective way to tackle problems of gang violence."

Aside from the Devonshire Division, CLEAR plans to expand to the 77th Street and Newton LAPD divisions this year. It now exists at three LAPD divisions, including Foothill.

CLEAR was formed in response to the 1995 slaying of 3-year-old Stephanie Kuhen in Cypress Park. She was fatally shot by gang members after her family's car turned onto a dead-end street.

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