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National Executive Conference Convened on Violent Gangs


Partnership Against Gangs GraphicHow bad are violent gangs on American streets? Very bad. One survey indicates that some 24,500 gangs operate in the U.S. -- and wreak havoc across the national board. Economic havoc, to the tune of billions of dollars lost in car, technology, and jewel thefts. Social havoc, through violence and drug trafficking... really an incalculable loss that is counted in murders, addiction, and broken families.

So this past June, at a meeting of the FBI's National Executive Institute, LAPD Chief Bill Bratton asked Director Mueller about convening a special law enforcement partnership against violent gangs in 2004. And this week, Chief Bratton's dream began to take shape.

Step one: A small working conference, sponsored by LAPD and the FBI's Office of Law Enforcement Coordination, to identify the core components of the problem and begin developing them into foundation building blocks for a national strategy. That's what happened this past weekend. A small working group of top law enforcement executives--police chiefs, sheriffs, and commissioners, FBI Special Agents in Charge, and executives of federal agencies and law enforcement organizations -- met in Los Angeles to bring their years of local experience with gangs into a national context. They sought to define terms and issues on which to develop yearly statistics and build strategies.

Step two: Follow-on and more inclusive executive law enforcement conferences that will build on this weekend's findings and recommendations -- defining first steps in a national initiative to ring the curtain down on gang violence in the days ahead. Two conferences are scheduled for later this year.

What was accomplished at this week's conference? Agreement and enthusiasm for the project for one thing. But also concrete progress in 5 core components:

1. Defining precisely what constitutes a violent gang -- a harder undertaking than you would imagine.
2. Defining the scope of the problem.
3. Identifying what training law enforcement needs to control the problem.
4. Identifying how community involvement can best help.
5. Determining the best ways to prosecute violent gang cases.

In the end, Louis Quijas, FBI Assistant Director of Law Enforcement Coordination, may have said it best: "It's been an extraordinary and uplifting conference, crucial to producing results on American streets. It's law enforcement partnerships against crime problems that make our communities safe -- cooperation, collaboration, and integration of federal, state, local, and tribal efforts. And it is my greatest pleasure to be part of the process -- protecting our communities and at the same time helping to achieve Director Mueller's goals in FBI priority areas."

Please stay tuned for the results of the upcoming conferences.

Related Links: The Office of Law Enforcement Coordination