Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón announced Tuesday that the office’s Hardcore Gang Division has been re-named the Community Violence Reduction Division as part of a reorganization that will embed prosecutors in some of the most challenged areas.
“By embedding our prosecutors in the communities that we serve, we will be able to get better results reducing and preventing crime by working with all of our community, county and law enforcement partners,” Gascón said in a written statement announcing the reorganization. “This community-first model will eventually be used throughout Los Angeles County to ensure our approach is reflective of the particular needs of individual communities.”
The division will seek to proactively prevent crime by working with community-based organizations and county partners that deal with violence prevention, victim services and public health, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
The district attorney has also established a community violence prosecution coordinator program that will serve each of the county’s branch courts and central trial offices, in which prosecutors assigned to the program will evaluate, file and try violent crimes that are not handled by the Community Violence Reduction Division. They will also mentor and train less experienced prosecutors who have expressed interest in prosecuting those types of cases.
“Our goal is to significantly reduce the rising violence in our communities and to provide timely and much-needed resources to crime victims. Together, we can make lasting changes that will dramatically improve our lives,” Gascón said.
Eric Siddall, vice president of the Los Angeles Association of Deputy District Attorneys, the union representing Los Angeles County prosecutors, spoke out against Gascón’s plans earlier this month.
“The remarkable change is that at a time when gang murders are reaching levels that we haven’t seen in 10, 20 years, (Gascón) has decided to cut the gang unit to fulfill a political promise that he’s given to fringe groups,” he said.
“It is typical of what this administration does. It does not make decisions based upon public safety. It does not make decisions about what is good for the case,” said Siddall, who spent five years as a prosecutor in the gang division. “It makes decisions based upon what it feels will poll well with the public,” Siddall said.