Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Upcoming Community Meeting

Neighborhood Prosecutor Rubin Harsoyo will partner with the Harbor Gateway Weed & Seed group, the Harbor LAPD and the Harbor Gateway South Neighborhood Council to conduct another "Tenants Rights and Empowerment Training" for residents of the 204th Street area on August 25th, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the outdoor venue located at Del Amo Boulevard and Denker Avenue in the Harbor Gateway.

Tenants and stakeholders will receive training on dealing with rental issues, improving communications with LAPD and enhancing the quality of life in their neighborhoods. Representatives from the City Attorney’s Office, the Harbor LAPD, the Los Angeles Housing Department and Inquilinos Unidos, a tenant resource group, will provide information on tenant rights and responsibilities under the law, gang prevention, public safety, apartment watch block groups and city services.

Since the fatal shooting of a 14-year-old African American girl, Cheryl Green, by a 204th gang member nearly two years ago, residents, community groups and city agencies are working together to bring positive changes in the neighborhood through apartment owner and tenant training, neighborhood clean up projects and youth activities.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

The City Attorney’s “SAUSA Project”

Last year, the City Attorney's Office and United States Attorney Tom O’Brien established a partnership between the prosecutors in the City Attorney’s Gang Division and the gang prosecutors in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California (the “USAO”) to prosecute dangerous and violent gang members in the City of Los Angeles by cross-designating and deputizing a number of experienced city prosecutors as Special Assistant United States Attorneys (“SAUSAs”).

These cross-designated SAUSAs work full time in the Criminal Division of the USAO and prosecute cases involving gang members from the City of Los Angeles who qualify for federal felony prosecution. Currently, the City Attorney’s Office has five prosecutors deputized as SAUSAs; two work for the federal Project Safe Neighborhoods Program and prosecute federal felony cases involving gang members with firearms, a third SAUSA prosecutes cases involving gang members who have committed violations of federal immigration law, and the two other SAUSAs prosecute federal cases involving forfeiture of gang members’ illegally obtained assets. All five existing SAUSAs work exclusively on felony cases arising in the City of Los Angeles. This unique partnership significantly increases the resources of the federal government dedicated to safety and security and brings them to bear on behalf of the residents of Los Angeles.

The project is directed by the USAO’s Gang Coordinator and Project Safe Neighborhoods Coordinator, as well as the City Attorney’s Director of Gang Operations, to ensure that the most serious gang offenders are targeted for prosecution. In every case prosecuted successfully by these SAUSAs, the convicted gang members will receive significantly longer sentences than they would receive in the state system and they will be incarcerated in federal prisons under federal supervision where they will not be eligible for parole. The result is that the truly hard-core gang offenders are removed from the local communities they terrorize and, where appropriate, the illegal proceeds of their criminal activities are seized.

Some of you no doubt saw coverage of this office’s recent filing of four gang and narcotics abatement lawsuits seeking restrictions, evictions and physical improvements on five South Los Angeles properties known to be hubs of drug activity for the Black P Stone and Rolling 20s criminal street gangs. This coordinated action was the direct result of the City Attorney’s partnership with federal authorities.

In this joint federal and local action, it was a Deputy City Attorney - acting as a SAUSA - who charged the persons responsible for the sale of the illegal firearms with federal firearms violations that could result, if convicted, in lengthy federal prison sentences.

According to federal authorities, many of the illegal guns seized in the Black P Stones and Rolling 20s sweep were purchased in Arizona and transported to LA in as little as two days time. Overall, this seizure resulted in 119 illegal firearms being removed from the South LA community. The two day sweep also resulted in the arrest of 38 gang members and associates.

The gang takedown was a collaborative effort conducted by the Baldwin Village Task Force, which consists of the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, LAPD’s Southwest Division, the United States Attorney’s Office, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office and the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office. Our thanks go out to these agencies for their on-going efforts to make Los Angeles safer.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Letters from the Community

Los Angeles’ West Adams neighborhood has endured crime and visual blight in the form of illegal drug use and sales, illegal vending, prostitution, graffiti, dumping, and gang activity for more than twenty-five years. After attending community meetings, the West Adams community members learned about the Neighborhood Prosecutor Program and asked Neighborhood Prosecutor Jan DeAndrade to assist them in abating these problems.

In working to resolve the community’s concerns, she coordinated and collaborated with LAPD, Council Member Herb Wesson’s Office, the Department of Public Works, and local community members to begin restoring hope, law, and order to their neighborhood. The situation is “improving day by day and is evident to everyone who lives here, and is a topic of conversation between neighbors. Everyone notices that it is no longer the chronic, anarchic, lawless, chaotic situation that it once was.”

One member of the community commented, “We still have a way to go, but I'm confident that this territory will…belong to the community and not those who want to exploit it.”

To that effect, the West Adams Quality of Life Committee – part of the West Adams Neighborhood Association – sent this letter to the City Attorney:

Dear Mr. Delgadillo,

I just wanted to let you all know how pleased our committee has been with the help we had from our neighborhood prosecutor, Jan DeAndrade, in our efforts to remedy the blighted and dangerous conditions at the intersection of Crenshaw and Adams Blvds. in West Adams. The day-by- day reclaiming of this intersection has, in no small part, been attributable to the tireless efforts of Ms. DeAndrade.

When our West Adams Quality of Life Committee took on the issue of drug dealing and crime at this intersection, there was a pervasive sense in our community that this situation…had been entrenched for the better part of three decades. It was with an exhausted and bitter resignation that our residents saw this as a lost battle, of no consequence to any but ourselves. The blight at this intersection had caused such community anger that much of it was burned to the ground in the LA riots of 1992. In spite of rebuilding, the grim and corrosive circumstances persisted, created in large measure by the blatant and overt drug dealing of a cartel that swaggered about at all hours with no fear of legal consequence. They claimed our bus shelters, our sidewalks, and large swaths of business property. The intersection was known locally as "Crack Central", and you spent time there at your peril. The drug trade came with its usual fellow travelers: prostitution, burglary, and devastated families.

Our West Adams Quality of Life Committee decided that improving this gateway to our community was imperative. We wanted this intersection back in the hands of residents, rather than under the control of those who sought to exploit and intimidate us. So, we enlisted the support of our neighborhood prosecutor, Jan DeAndrade.

The co-operation we have received from her has been consistent and transformative. She has been the ideal coordinator, pulling together city officials, law enforcement officers, and private business owners needed to work together to turn this situation around. She has encouraged when possible, insisted when necessary, and has not made idle and unfulfilled promises to our community.

Without grandstanding, she has held businesses accountable for eradicating criminal activity on their premises. She has sat through interminable meetings, patiently listening to and addressing a litany of community concerns, and reported progress to our local organizations. She has issued injunctions to prevent criminals from returning to the area upon their release. She has been charming, approachable, reliable, and, above all, relentless in her efforts to help us.

This is how it is supposed to work. This is a real success story of how the neighborhood prosecutor system can take on a daunting and intractable community problem, and make rapid and sustainable progress. The members of our committee wanted to express our gratitude to this particular prosecutor, and to the City Attorney’s Office for initiating this program.


Linda Marais
Writing on behalf of the West Adams Quality of Life Committee