LOS ANGELES, CA – Today Councilmember Bob Blumenfield led a discussion in the Public Works and Gang Reduction Committee to explore how to combat gang activity in the West Valley. Last month, per Blumenfield’s request, the Police Commission and the Mayor’s Office of Gang Reduction and Youth Development (GRYD) released a comprehensive report focusing on the rise of gang activity in West Valley communities and what is being done to intervene.
“The report was the first step,” said Blumenfield. “Now we need to use that data and find creative ways to fight gangs that have grown in the West Valley.”
The report concluded that there are currently 16 gangs that are operating in the West Valley including the three most active, Canoga Park Alabama, Bryant Street, and Reseda Southside/Westside. The amount of violent gang-related crimes have gone up over the past three years from 177 in 2014, to 288 in 2015, to 289 in 2016.
Currently, only LAPD’s Topanga division is within a GRYD zone in Blumenfield’s district leaving the West Valley division with less tools to prevent and intervene with gang activity. West Valley is one of the few divisions that have seen an uptick in gang violence.
Blumenfield said, “There are a lot of people out there who think that the West Valley is gang free, they are deeply mistaken. Not only must we fight those gangs head on but we must ensure that our children have good prevention programs and healthy after school opportunities that divert kids from becoming gang members.”
GRYD zones offer numerous preventative tools that have a direct impact on the communities they serve including education campaigns, gun buy-backs, and seasonal programs that are tailored for unique neighborhoods. One of the most successful programs they operate is Summer Night Lights, bringing community members and local police together for evenings of entertainment. Currently they are exploring ways to add Friday’s in the Fall to provide more opportunities to meet and form relationships between youth and at risk families.
Blumenfield moved to have GRYD report back on the process and financial impacts of either expanding the current GRYD zone in the Topanga Division to include the West Valley Division or establishing a new one.