We’ve kind of enlisted the help of the gangs…If your goal is not gang eradication, which none of us knows how to do, but instead violence reduction, and you enlist the gangs as aids, then you begin to change the physics of the neighborhood…We’re doing it with the cooperation of the gangs because they’re so powerful—they control some of the neighborhoods. We get them into classes and training, and we say, if you help us stop the violence, we’re not going to hold your past against you. Everyone agrees we should keep the kids safe… [bloodshed wasn’t just the result of gang identification and drug disputes, but also personal grudges and simply] the power of the barrel of a gun…If you don’t give them a way to exert power legitimately, they’ll do it another way.
Connie Rice, Los Angeles civil rights attorney
In 2003 police brass asked Rice to help them formulate a new strategy for coping with LA’s…gang violence. The effort resulted in the Office of Gang Reduction and Youth Development, an initiative housed in the LA mayor’s office that includes recreational programs at night in city parks, intervention with preteen youth in neighborhoods with high gang membership, and appeals to former and current gang leaders to stop retaliatory violence. There’s…an experiment underway to offer…children of gang members a…college education if the kids stay out of gangs.