Police Launch Second L.A. Gang Sweep After First Nets Hundreds of Arrests
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Police renewed an unprecedented 1,000-officer blitz on street gangs Saturday, redeploying a special task force that made nearly 600 arrests in an anti-gang dragnet the night before.
″All day long, we have been lifting the hammer,″ said police spokesman Bill Frio. ″The chief called at 3 p.m. and said to drop it.″
The force made 592 arrests during the citywide sweep Friday night and early Saturday for a variety of felonies and misdemeanors, and also impounded at least 10 guns and 96 vehicles. Police said 224 of those arrested were believed to be gang members.
Police had earlier reported 634 arrests, but later corrected the figure, which was caused by confusion during booking, Frio said. Officials were unsure how many of those arrested were held and how many released on bail, he said.
The huge show of force began Friday evening with Mayor Tom Bradley’s pledge to ″take back the streets,″ and continued through the night, with even Police Chief Daryl Gates and an assistant chief making arrests.
Gangs were blamed for 205 killings in the city of Los Angeles in 1987. Countywide, the death toll from gang violence last year was 387, many of the victims bystanders caught in the gangs’ trademark ″drive-by″ shootings.
Only one violent gang-related incident was reported in the city during the sweep Friday night, police said.
Shots were fired at an officer serving a search warrant at a house. A special weapons and tactics team was summoned but there was no further violence, Frio said. Six people were arrested for investigation of narcotics possession. Cocaine, cash and several guns were seized.
In a gang-related incident outside the city, Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies in nearby Lynwood arrested a young man after a two-hour standoff that began when he was spotted with a gun, which he allegedly pointed at a deputy.
The sweep was the city Police Department’s biggest attack ever on drug dealing and street violence. Over the past month, smaller task forces have arrested a total of 1,400 suspected gang members, Frio said.
The police chief made a collar of his own when he stopped a man in gang dress, frisked him and discovered a bottle of prescription drugs in somebody else’s name. The man was held for investigation of possession of a controlled substance, said Lt. Mark Leap.
Assistant Police Chief Robert Vernon, who was on patrol on the southside, also made an arrest. His collar was wanted for a parole violation, Frio said.
About half the special force went to augment regular patrols in the south- central area. The rest of the officers spread out in gang areas throughout the city.
The task force was assembled by putting officers on overtime at a cost of $150,000 a day. Bradley has vowed to spend whatever it takes to intimidate the gangs.
Drug dealing and gang violence have long been a fact of life in the poor, minority neighborhoods of south-central Los Angeles.
But wider community attention - and political will - focused on the violence in February when a woman was shot to death during a gang confrontation in the affluent, mostly white Westwood entertainment district near the University of California, Los Angeles.
More recently, after a Good Friday attack killed one man and injured a dozen others, none of them gang members, Gates announced plans for the new task force.
Bradley has budgeted funds for 400 new police officers next year, and political opposition to law-and-order measures aimed at gangs is virtually non-existent.
City Councilman Robert Farrell, a longtime southside representative, said as the task force formed Friday evening that there was strong support for the police effort and no opposition over potential civil rights violations.
″The expansion of the police force ... is what is necessary to maintain a sense of order, decency and civility, and the police deployment is appropriate,″ he said.
The Police Department’s use of a ″suspect profile,″ intelligence work and preliminary planning is ″why you’ve not heard anyone raise the issue of civil rights concern,″ he said.