Ex-Gang Members Help LA Cut Homicides

Lowest rate since 1970 credited to 'gang interventionists' program
By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 28, 2007 9:29 AM CDT
Pastor Mike Cummings, left, a former gang member turned community activist, asks a pedestrian to move along as students leave David Starr Jordan High School in the Watts district of Los Angeles, April...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – The Los Angeles homicide rate has dropped this year to the lowest level since 1970, a turnaround police credit in part to a new program using ex-gang members to prevent gang killings. Nine months after the mayor vowed to crack down on gang violence, homicides are down by 50% in some neighborhoods, the Los Angeles Times reports. A civil right attorney calls it a "paradigm-changing breakthrough."

Whereas previous anti-gang campaigns focused on mass arrests and high-profile sweeps, the police have this time turned for help to former gang members, who are especially effective in calming tensions after a killing to prevention retaliation. "For the first time, we're requiring captains to call the gang interventionists, give them the word on the shooting and get out there and avert another homicide,"  said a deputy police chief.