Violence reduction program launched today in L.A.

Tonight, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will kick off the first evening of the “Summer Night Lights” (SNL) program. Considered a violence reduction initiative, it keeps city parks and recreation centers open after dark with organized activities for at-risk youth, offering a safe place to spend their evenings during the summer months.

According to the mayor’s office, last summer there was a 40% reduction in gang-related violent and property crimes and a 57% reduction in gang-related homicides last summer in neighborhoods surrounding SNL sites.

Eight more sites will be added to this summer’s SNL program, for a total of 32 locations throughout the city of Los Angeles in communities most afflicted by gang violence. 

Here’s the breakdown of the Summer Night Lights program:

1.  Extended Hours & Programming: From July 6th to September 3rd, SNL sites extend their hours from 7 pm until midnight four nights a week (Wednesday – Saturday). Expanded programming includes community-centered recreational, educational and artistic programming to engage youth in positive activities during peak times for violence.

2.  Youth Squad:  10 community at-risk youth (ages 17-20) are hired to staff the extended hours and programs.

3.  Cease-Fire/Maintaining Peace: Community intervention workers are assigned to each SNL site to address potential conflicts and help keep the peace at the site and in the surrounding communities.

Do you think the program works?  What else should be done in your community to reduce crime and gang violence?

Report claims gang-related crime has dropped

The mayor’s office received some good news today: it looks like anti-gang strategies like the Summer Night Lights program are working. City Controller Wendy Greuel shared the results of a report that indicated a reduction in gang-related crime in the areas designated to be hubs of gang activity.

The lengthily-titled report, Semi-Annual Follow-up of the Controller’s Blueprint for a Comprehensive Citywide Anti-Gang Strategy, states that gang-related crime has dropped 10.7 percent in the two years since the Gang Reduction and Youth Development program started.

“Controller Greuel’s findings show significant progress on one of our most important initiatives,” said Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa as quoted in a press release. “Now is the time to take that next step in evaluating exactly what programs and what services are causing the drop in gang violence.”

According to the mayor’s office, the Urban Institute has been monitoring the city’s anti-gang efforts for over a year, and will release their findings in a series of reports beginning next month. Greuel, however, has expressed criticism over the amount of tax-payer money dedicated to the Urban Institute and their yet-to-be-published reports. A total of $525,000 has been spent on the evaluation of the GRYD program.

“Our goal is to keep our children out of gangs and onto the right path to a bright future,” said Villaraigosa. “Our GRYD programs are reducing gang violence, radically changing the culture and bureaucracy at City Hall, preventing more people from joining gangs and providing an exit strategy for those already involved. We’re working together to stop the cycle of gang violence that has plagued our city for too long.”

View the designated zones of the GRYD program: