The Los Angeles City Council on Friday signed off on Mayor Eric Garcetti's nominees to the Board of Police Commissioners, including one who questioned the fairness of a gang injunction proposed for neighborhoods northwest of downtown.
Council members heaped praise on Garcetti's four appointees during back-to-back hearings, first in the Public Safety Committee and then during the council's regular meeting. But they also engaged in an unscheduled discussion of gang injunctions with commission appointee Sandra Figueroa-Villa, who runs the family services nonprofit group El Centro del Pueblo in Echo Park.
The city's lawyers filed an injunction in June that seeks to prohibit members of six street gangs in the neighborhoods of Echo Park, Elysian Valley, Historic Filipinotown and Angelino Heights from engaging in such activities as associating in public, harassing members of the community and drinking in public.
Figueroa-Villa, whose organization provides gang prevention services to the city, said it is “easy to get on” a list of gang members that is kept by the LAPD and later used to file injunctions. Many people on that list have gone on to get jobs and raise families, she said.
“There’s a lot of opposition, there’s a lot of fear, there’s a lot of concern” about the Echo Park injunction, Figueroa-Villa told the council's Public Safety Committee. “I know many kids that are on that list. I also know there’s many kids that should not be on that list today.”
Despite those statements, Figueroa-Villa told The Times she and her organization have no formal position on the Echo Park injunction.
City Atty. Mike Feuer said through a spokesman that 19 adult gang members have been formally notified of the proposed Echo Park injunction, which would cover 3.8 square miles if approved. Councilman Mitch O'Farrell, whose district stretches from Echo Park to Hollywood, said he favors the injunction but also wants a process for removing those who can demonstrate that they have severed their gang affiliation and are “ready for a fresh start.”
“I would disagree with you that it’s easy to get on the list, though,” O'Farrell told Figueroa-Villa, before voting to put her on the commission. “To get on the list to be served an injunction actually takes work and some criminal activity.”
Garcetti spokesman Yusef Robb said he does not know if the mayor supports the Echo Park injunction.
The five-member Police Commission sets the LAPD's policies, approves its $1-billion annual budget and oversees its operations. One of its most important tasks is determining whether officer-involved shootings and other serious uses of force were appropriate.
In addition to Figueroa-Villa, the council confirmed Steve Soboroff, a former chairman of Playa Capital, the master developer of Playa Vista on the Westside; Loyola Law School professor Kathleen Kim, who specializes in human trafficking and immigrants rights; and Paula Madison, chief executive of the Los Angeles Sparks women's basketball team.
Garcetti kept one of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s police commissioners: USC Associate Dean Robert Saltzman, who joined the five-member panel in 2007.
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