By Eric Grammatico and Aakanksha Patel
LOS ANGELES, CA – Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón this week discussed his plans for a potential countywide restructuring that would bring systemic change to the DA’s office and Los Angeles Police Dept.
The changes would change how the DA and LAPD collaborate on criminal cases. Individual prosecutors from the DA’s office would be assigned to a police division where they would work closely with detectives and investigators in the hopes of reducing community violence.
“We know that violence is a public health issue,” District Attorney Gascón said. “And we know that law enforcement cannot take this on alone.”
But rather than fortifying traditional policing and criminal justice tactics, Gascón pledges to find an alternate route that will ensure the physical and emotional safety of the individual.
“Public safety strategies have traditionally been reactive and reactionary, instead of proactive and preventative,” said Gascón. “We will be taking a much more proactive role to intervene and to prevent crime, both through a law enforcement lens and also through a community and public health lens.
One of the restructuring plan’s main goals is to create a system of intervention that will be made available to youths who make frequent contact with the justice system.
Sam Lewis, Executive Director of the Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC), commented, “The opportunity for interventions that provide care and guardianship are crucial to the health and safety of young people and we are grateful to DA Gascón’s office for prioritizing trauma-informed responses in our community.”
In addition to the District Attorney’s willingness to work in concert with non-profit organizations to reduce community violence, Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore announced:
“The Los Angeles Police Department welcomes the innovate approach by District Attorney George Gascón to assign prosecutors to specific divisions in order to collaborate with our detective personnel as we strive to disrupt violence, proactively prevent victimization, and protect communities across the city.”
In fact, LA prosecutors have already begun collaborating with LAPD.
As of April, prosecutors and police officers have been visiting neighborhoods near and around the 77th, Foothill, Mission and Newton LAPD divisions to acquaint themselves with the areas and establish connections with the community and local organizations.
On the other hand, Tim Kornegay, LA Voice community organizer and California director of Live-Free Coalition, cautioned, “The effort has to be grounded in and geared toward not creating another system of corrections, whether it’s in the public arena or it’s based on systemic and institutional structure.”
“But a system created based on healing, cultural competence, understanding and undoing the conditions that give birth to the kind of epidemic and generational violence we’ve been dealing with for half a century,” emphasized Kornegay.
Overall, District Attorney George Gascón’s plan received favorable responses from both locals and civic leaders.
“Today we begin the historic journey of reimagining public safety with the community as a driving force,” said Skipp Townsend, founder and CEO of 2nd Call, a non-profit organization that specializes in trauma-informed care.
“We know that the community-based organizations and violence interrupters are truly vital to meaningfully reduce the violence,” said District Attorney Gascón.