By Rene Villaroman/Asianjournal.com
LOS ANGELES — City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo declared that his office has changed its approach to crime from a demographic to a geographic model to keep up with the changing times. The announcement was made at the Second Annual Media Forum for the Asian-Pacific Islander Community on Thursday, January 24.
“In the past it had been strictly a demographic model: We focus on the person, where that person lives, what crimes he commits, we find that person and arrest him and put him in jail. That age-old model had its merits,” Delgadillo said.
Today, the city attorney’s approach is more proactive. He and his prosecutors go to the neighborhoods where there is a prevalence of crimes and they attack it from every angle. In the case of gangs, Delgadillo said that they go after the gang’s headquarters, take away the place where they collect and do business because that gives them the opportunity to put the gang out of business for good.
“That’s our goal, and we feel that we are making progress toward that goal,” Delgadillo said.
Two weeks ago, Delgadillo’s team made a sweep of the Alameda and the El Faro swap meets in South LA. The markets were long suspected as centers of activity of the 38th Street Gang.
On that sweep, the city attorney’s team aided by LAPD officers, arrested two gang members, issued three citations for cigarette sales violations, closed a restaurant that was selling unsafe food, and caught individuals who were dealing with counterfeit DVDs and CDs. The sweep was precipitated by a tip made by a physician who reported that people were getting sick from taking fake pharmaceuticals being sold in the swap meets.
“We are the gang capital of America. We gave birth to them,” Delgadillo lamented. “But we are making a dent.”
He said that when he was elected City Attorney six years ago there were 57,000 gang members in the city. Today, there are 39,000, a number that he considers still “too many.”
As for Asian gangs, Delgadillo said that his office does not deal with a lot of them because most are in the San Gabriel Valley.
“Gangs are not all alike. Members of Asian gangs go to school. If they have tattoos, they are of Asian heritage, which is a proud thing,” he said. “More often than not, they get good grades. So the signs for a parent to identify whether they are involved in gangs are a little bit more difficult to discern.”
“So parents should have a conversation with their kids every day for at least 15 minutes and find out who their friends are, where they hang out. Basic parenting should include this kind of conversation,” he advised.
Looking ahead, Delgadillo said that his office would continue to go after gangs. “We are going to round them up, a challenge, especially now that we have tough budgetary times,” he said. “Environmental protection will continue to be enforced, and we will continue to keep our neighborhoods safe,” he promised. He said that they will focus on keeping schools safe, adding that by making them safe, neighborhoods will likewise be safe.
“I am not saying that I have all the answers. But I know that if I go in there, I would be able to identify the problems and work towards fixing them,” Delgadillo said. Obviously, there are language issues, but I want to encourage the Asian-Pacific Islanders media to help me to communicate to the community that it’s okay to talk to us.”