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EDITORIAL GANG CONTROL REAL SOLUTION REQUIRES MORE SUBSTANCE, LESS SYMBOLISM.

YOU might have missed it amid all the pomp and circumstance surrounding inaugurations in Sacramento and in Washington, but a smaller dog-and-pony show took place earlier this week, when Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa took to the nation's capital.

The purpose of the mayor's visit was noble, namely a meeting with Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez to plead for federal funding to help combat Los Angeles' escalating gang problem. But there's a long way to go between noble purpose and fruitful outcome.

We don't mean to sound cynical. No doubt, it's a good thing to enlist Washington's assistance in the city's gang fight. But we've seen this ritual before. State or local leaders march off to D.C., demand support for some local concern -- and that's the last we hear about it for some time.

Too often, the trip to Washington becomes a way to dump responsibility for a local problem into the lap of someone else far, far away.

That can't happen with the city's anti-gang fight.

Federal aid might be part of the solution to the city's gang crisis, but it's surely not the solution. Reining in L.A's urban terrorists is, first and foremost, a local responsibility.

Under Police Chief William Bratton, crime in L.A. dropped by 7.7 percent last year, the fifth consecutive year of declines. But gang-related crimes jumped an alarming 14 percent, fueling a double-digit crime spike in the San Fernando Valley.

Gang violence is terrorizing the city's neighborhoods, and a comprehensive response is needed. That response must include, but not be limited to, law enforcement. It also must include programs to reach at-risk kids and cure the noxious gang culture.

But it will take a lot more than federal funds or symbolic jaunts. It will take a real commitment from city leadership.
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Title Annotation:Editorial
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Jan 5, 2007
Words:298
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