>The slaying of Santa Monica High School student Eddie Lopez two weeks ago in the Pico Neighborhood prompted Santa Monica’s City Council to discuss gang violence on Tuesday.Santa Monica Police Chief James Butts told the Council “The gang problem in Santa Monica is but a small microcosm of the Los Angeles County gang problem. There are approximately 86,000 gang members in Los Angeles County belonging to 1,100 sets of cliques. The City of Los Angeles has over 240 sets of clicks composed of about just under 39,000 gang members. Here in Santa Monica we have just under 100 gang members associated with 3 sets of clicks and 50% of those live in cities outside of Santa Monica. The majority of gang related homicides and other crimes that were committed in Santa Monica in recent history were committed by gang members that belong to gangs in Los Angeles and other places.” We know who the gang members are in Santa Monica, we have rigorous enforcement here “but when they do things in other areas outside Santa Monica they invite retaliation.” Butts then discussed possible solutions by explaining, “kids that come towards gangs are kids that have lost hope.” Those that join gangs due so “because they get a sense of worth and protection. The successes that I’ve seen in diverting kids that can go this way or that way usually involves adults that care, around having something for them to do when they leave school, having tutoring support so school doesn’t become an embarrassment or a non motivator and having consistency so they feel valued.” The Police Chief also stressed that both sides of the approach in dealing with the issue: “the immediacy of protection and the long term approach to starving gang membership lie in regional collaboration.” City Manager Lamont Ewell discussed fast tracking efforts the City had previously approved “to build stronger neighborhoods. These efforts include “being more aggressive about graffiti removal,” putting in approximately $2 Million for streetscape improvements for Pico Boulevard and Cloverfield and adding lighting for alleys in the Pico neighborhood.
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