Profile No. 27

Youth Firearms Violence Initiative -- Inglewood, CA

Program Type or Federal Program Source:
Initiative to deter gun carrying in high crime hotspot areas; Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.

Program Goal:
To reduce handgun violence through disruption of gang activities.

Specific Groups Targeted by the Strategy:
Crenshaw Mafia Gang and Family Gangster Bloods.

Geographical Area Targeted by the Strategy:
Darby-Dixon public housing area of Inglewood known as "the Bottoms."

Evaluated by:
Abt Associates Inc., Cambridge, MA.

Contact Information:
Lieutenant Hampton Cantrell
Inglewood Police Department
1 Manchester Boulevard
Inglewood, CA 90301
Phone: 310­412­5206
Fax: 310­412­8798

Years of Operation:

Through the Inglewood Community Oriented Policing and Problem Solving (ICOPPS) unit, the Inglewood Police Department implemented handgun violence enforcement and prevention programs that targeted major youth gangs in West Central Los Angeles. Unique to the initiative was enforcement through civil injunction and restraining orders against the Crenshaw Mafia Gang and the Family Gangster Bloods that operated in and around the Darby-Dixon section of Inglewood, particularly in a drug-driven, crime-infested six block area of public housing known as "the Bottoms." The primary prevention component was a Rights of Passage (ROP) mentoring program designed to fill a gap in afterschool activities from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Inglewood, previously a predominantly low-income, African-American community, was rapidly becoming a majority Hispanic population, thereby creating a fertile environment for gang affinity, turf conflict, and violence.

One building containing Morningside High, Monroe Junior High, and Woodworth Elementary serves one-half of the Darby-Dixon student population and was a focal point for juvenile gang recruitment and criminal activity. Also in Inglewood are Centinella Park and a large cemetery that attracts spillover gang and criminal activity from Los Angeles. The unemployment rate for the target area is 42 percent.

Enforcement activities were directed through Strategies Against Gang Environments (SAGE)a unit funded by the Youth Firearms Violence Initiative (YFVI)which comprises one full-time and six overtime officers that worked closely with a deputy district attorney and a deputy probation officer dedicated to the initiative. Through saturation patrols in the target area, SAGE officers gathered evidence that would establish specific gangs and gang members as a public nuisance. The deputy district attorney then requested a restraining order that would allow the Inglewood Police Department to take gang members into custody for violation of a civil court injunction (e.g., loitering) rather than waiting until the police observed criminal activity by gang members. Part of the strategy also included "knock and talk" investigations conducted by the deputy probation officer who visited probationers at their residences and searched for guns. Initially the deputy probation officer, a lifelong Inglewood resident, rode with SAGE officers; however, as the role became institutionalized, and with the support of the police department, he was issued his own car, granted an exemption to allow carrying a gun, and empowered to work alone. Initial fears that the civil injunction strategy might not stand judicial scrutiny were diminished when the California Supreme Court ruled favorably in a related case (People ex re. Gallo v. Carlos Acuna, 97 Cal. Daily op. Service 724).

The prevention component used volunteer police officers, firefighters, and community leaders as role models and mentors in curriculum that included components on civic values, self-esteem, conflict mediation, aesthetic art, martial arts, violence prevention, academic support, and healthy male/female relationships. The school district referred the youth and provided facilities for the ROP program, which graduated 87 of the first class of 120 students in the 3-month program. The ROP program has been continued beyond the federally funded project by business and community donations.

The SAGE unit was disbanded after YFVI funding was exhausted; however, the injunction against the Crenshaw Mafia Gang remains in place with enforcement through routine patrols and the police department's gang component. The department reports that the Crenshaw Mafia Gang has ceased to exist as an organized entity as a direct result of the civil action. As 1998 ended, public defenders were positioning to represent individual gang members in challenging the strategy that the Inglewood Police Department regards as one of its most effective weapons for combating juvenile gang violence.

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