The city of Compton is partnering with federal law enforcement agencies to address long-standing problems with gang violence.
The U.S. Department of Justice announced Monday that Compton was one of a few new cities selected to join the Violence Reduction Network, a two-year initiative aimed at providing assistance to cities with chronic violence. The program will provide federal resources, including personnel, training and other support, to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, which patrols Compton.
The FBI has already committed to relocating its Safe Streets Task Force unit in Pasadena to Compton, said U.S. attorney’s office spokesman Thom Mrozek. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the U.S. Marshals Service also will devote people to work with the sheriff’s Compton office, Mrozek said.
The Violence Reduction Network “is definitely a game changer for public safety in Compton that will positively impact the quality of life for our entire community,” Compton Mayor Aja Brown said in a statement.
Federal agencies will work together to tackle gang violence, human trafficking, narcotics, gun proliferation and cybercrime, sheriff’s Lt. Chris Perez said.
Though Compton has long been notorious for gang crime, including drive-by shootings, violent crime has lessened significantly in recent years.
In the first half of 2015, Compton experienced a 5% decrease in overall crime even as the city of Los Angeles experienced a 12.7% jump, said L.A. County Sheriff Jim McDonnell.
There have been 11 homicides this year in Compton, down from 14 during the same period last year, Perez said. At its peak, Compton recorded 87 killings in 1991.
“We have come along way, but any violent act is one too many,” Perez said.
But federal officials said the figures might be misleading.
“The murder rate has declined not because there are less shootings but because more people are surviving,” Mrozek said.
He said that faster response times by law enforcement have led attackers to flee shooting scenes faster and, as a result, fire fewer gunshots. Mrozek added that victims of shootings and other violence are also getting emergency help faster.
Other cities chosen to join the Violence Reduction Network include Little Rock, Ark.; West Memphis, Ark.; Flint, Mich., and Newark, N.J. They join the inaugural sites of Detroit; Chicago; Camden, N.J.; Wilmington, Del.; and Oakland and Richmond in California.