Surge of Gang Violence Prompts LAPD to Reallocate Resources

In response to a surge of gang shootings over an area stretching from Boyle Heights to South Los Angeles, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck ordered a series of responses to take effect immediately.

The responses include redeploying officers and allocating additional resources to Hollenbeck station in Boyle Heights and three area stations on the city's southside: Newton, 77th and Southeast.

Police counted 10 shootings over the weekend, most appearing to have gang involvement, and two Monday. By 8 a.m. Tuesday, there had been three more, plus an officer-involved shooting when gang homicide detectives encountered a man with a gun near 10th and Florence Avenues. South Bureau was placed on tactical alert for the morning.

Beck had already decided on responses when the civilian police commission convened at 9:30 a.m. for its regular weekly meeting, and he informed the board members.

One of the steps includes assigning more parole compliance officers to the four areas. A driver who fled officers Monday night, crashing into vehicles and carjacking another, has been identified by police as a parolee and known gang member, Aaron Lorta, 29.

The violence is believed associated with several different gangs, according to LAPD Commander Andrew Smith. Whether the surge in different areas of the city at the same time is more than coincident, police cannot yet say.

In the south Figueroa Street corridor, a long simmering feud between two gangs has recently become more active, according to LAPD Southeast Lt. Ron Masterson.

"What sparks it can be one little thing. But if we don't address quickly, it can get out of control," Masterson said.

The concern is that unless the chain of violence is stopped, shootings lead to retaliations.

Violent crime in general, and gang crime in particular, had been steadily declining in Los Angeles since 2003. But the trend reversed last year, when LAPD reported violent crime overal increased
14.3 percent.

"The gang problem is not going to be solved solely by the presence of more police officers," said Jasmyne Cannick, a political analyst based in South LA. "We need to budget more money for intervention and prevention so at some point these gangs die out."

Police intend to cotinue working with the mayor's office of Gang Reduction and Youth Development, said Smith.

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