Council Backs Grant to Extend Gang Program

The City Council moved unanimously Wednesday to expand a specialized anti-gang initiative into three new areas, including the Los Angeles Police Department's Devonshire, 77th Street and Newton divisions this year.

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

The program currently exists at three other LAPD divisions. They receive coordinated backing of city and county attorneys specifically assigned to prosecute serious crimes as well as vandalism, probation violations and nuisance complaints.

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

Fifth District Councilman Mike Feuer, who is a member of the public safety panel that authorized the motion, hailed the 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."

The program began in response to the 1995 murder of 3-year-old Stephanie Kuhen in Cypress Park. She was fatally shot by gang members when after her family turned onto a dead-end street.

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