Gang Reduction and Public Safety

Mayor Villaraigosa’s recent article “Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Goingcomments on the current state of public safety in Los Angeles. Villaraigosa has implemented various gang-reduction plans to “carefully target resources to communities most in need to significantly reduce gang-related crimes” with great results—crime rates are the lowest Los Angeles has seen in decades. By encouraging a close partnership between the Los Angeles Police Department and our communities, gang-reduction programs have been widely successfully in working directly with families and neighborhoods to reduce gang activity.

Gang reduction and intervention initiatives such as Summer Night Lights, which now operates in 32 parks throughout Los Angeles, create safe environments for participants to engage with their community in fun block-party style outdoor activities, as well as find opportunities for employment. Many of the programs are set in neighborhoods prone to gang violence, so police are readily available throughout the parks to insure safety, and to give their support to their neighborhoods.

However, there are still youth within our communities that could benefit from more after-school, after-hours programs—more opportunities to be engaged positively. Better coordination between city services and the efforts by our police department, for example, would impact the very foundation of safety in each neighborhood.  A recent study led by Advancement Project and Violence Prevention Coalition finds that the lack of a comprehensive primary prevention infrastructure leads to a lack of safe public spaces and accessible services and activities. This means that we should be expanding gang-reduction and other public safety initiatives, in order to give the community greater access to and knowledge of such programs.

Innovative approaches to improving public safety—program expansion, service provision, etc. —can be costly, so we must find solutions that make such approaches affordable. It’s up to both our city government and the private sector to build partnerships that provide benefits such as job training and creation—a direct investment into our neighborhoods and our families that improves welfare and reduces the root causes of crime.

Crime rates in Los Angeles are the lowest they’ve been since the Eisenhower Administration, and Mayor Villaraigosa’s efforts to increase public safety have been noticed on a national level. However, we should not be satisfied with just lower crime rates. We can continue to strengthen our commitment by reaching out and expanding access for troubled and at-risk youth. We must continue to work together to address the root causes of crime, so that safety continues to improve for all Los Angeles residents.

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Why I’m Running

My mother has always been my inspiration. While pregnant with me, she left her hometown of Mexicali en route to Los Angeles. Though she yearned for home and thought she would one day return, my mother stayed to ensure she could give me and my sister a better future. It wasn’t easy, though, as a single mother working multiple low-paying jobs, constantly moving between garages and backrooms.  We eventually settled in El Sereno where I became familiar with the streets of Eastside Los Angeles.  My mother always worked hard and taught us the importance of community, remaining optimistic through thick and thin.

My mother is like many Angelenos—hard-working, committed to providing for her family and making her community a better place. After speaking with her and other Angelenos like her about the upcoming Mayoral elections in 2013, I got the sense that there was a void in the field of candidates. Angelenos need a candidate who inspires hope and optimism, just like my mother has always inspired in me. We need a mayor whose focus is creating jobs. We need someone who understands what it’s like to grow up in some of the most underserved communities, while being able to advocate clearly for smart market-based economic policies.  We need someone who understands first-hand the pressures faced by students in LA public schools. We need a mayor who will explore new approaches to building learning environments and personally reach out to our youth—our future. We need a mayor who won’t blindly spend our money fixing problems, but will strategize with the community to provide essential city services in a financially sustainable way. And we need an innovative mayor who’s knowledgeable about the latest and greatest methods and technology. 

That’s why I decided to run—to inspire and reenergize LA, just like my mother has always done for me. With my campaign—a grassroots effort relying on volunteers rather than dollars or special interests—I’m going to go talk to every neighborhood in the city. Not just to sell my vision, but to listen and learn. That’s what public service is about—real, passionate leadership from the heart. I am here to represent those voices asking for integrity, hard work, and fair representation of all Angelenos. Let’s reenergize LA and make history as we build for a better tomorrow.

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