WOODLAND HILLS—On Tuesday, March 21, the Los Angeles Police Commission approved a report showing an increase in gang-related activity in the west San Fernando Valley, over the past three years.
Los Angeles City Councilman Bob Blumenfield, who represents the neighborhoods of Canoga Park, Reseda, Tarzana, Winnetka, and Woodland Hills, requested the written report. According to the analysis, 16 active street gangs currently claim territory west of the 405 Freeway, in the Los Angeles Police Department’s jurisdiction of the Valley. A Canoga Park gang, which has 375 members, is undergoing a gang injunction. A total of 848 gang-related crimes were reported in the area in 2016, up 33 percent since 2014.
“It’s validating and providing evidence on what we suspected. We have some serious gang activity in the West Valley,” Councilman Blumenfield told Los Angeles Daily News. “It’s important to document it, so we can get appropriate resources in terms of (crime) suppression and intervention.”
The report shows that 12 people were shot in gang-related incidents in 2014, 18 in 2015, and 15 in 2016. Gang-related homicides have more than doubled, from three in 2014 to eight in 2016.
Lt. Brian Morrison, gang coordinator of LAPD’s Operations-Valley Bureau, noted that number is “most telling,” with an increase in victims or crimes being a “cause for concern.”
“Our officers are stemming the tide and trying to get a hold of what may be going on,” Morrison told the Los Angeles Police Commission on Tuesday. The gangs appear to go through cycles, motivated by different factors.
The report tracked crimes as part of the Citywide Gang Crime Summary and the Gang Impact Team Profiles, including homicide, rape, robbery, carjacking, and other violent crimes. There are 11 violent crimes in total.
Currently, there is one Gang Reduction and Youth Development (GRYD) Zone in the West Valley, which covers 23 LAPD Reporting Districts. The program provides prevention and intervention resources to at-risk communities and youth. A Juvenile Re-Entry program is also being developed in the area, to help juvenile offenders transition back into society.
Councilman Blumenfield is hopeful that the information in the report will help draw funding for these programs. He will hold a “public safety town hall” on April 4 at 7 p.m., at Taft High School in Woodland Hills. The conversation will focus on crime and crime prevention.