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EDITORIAL INJUNCTION OVERREACH CITY ATTORNEY CASTS TOO WIDE A GANG NET IN NORTHEAST VALLEY.

CITY Attorney Rocky Delgadillo outdid himself with the creation of the largest gang injunction yet, targeting the San Fer gang in the northeast San Fernando Valley.

And in so doing, he might have gone too far.

There's no doubt the San Fer gang has terrorized the community and ought to be curtailed. But in Delgadillo's zeal, he seems to have cast a wider -- and more random -- net than necessary.

This new injunction in the northeast San Fernando Valley includes a nearly 10-mile swath of Sylmar and the city of San Fernando and smacks of desperation. And residents can tell. Instead of supporting the effort to fight gangs, many say it is too broad and will hurt property values.

Indeed, the size of the injunction is sure to be challenged in court by civil-rights groups for being too restrictive. And maybe it ought to be, if only to force the city to reconsider its use of gang injunctions before the entire city is one big injunction area.

The success of gang injunctions has always been murky. Although police and prosecutors hail them as the best thing since handcuffs, gang injunctions appear to have done little to stem gang activity in Los Angeles. Four years ago, for example, a Daily News examination found that in three of the four Valley neighborhoods with gang injunctions, gang-related crime actually increased.

As part of that examination, many people complained that the gang injunctions instantly criminalized people who were on the edge of gang life -- or mistakenly assumed to be gang members -- and that there was no exit plan for anyone identified as a gang member or for an area under a gang injunction.

This is not to say the injunctions ought to be abanbaned. They are important law-enforcement tools. But as this latest gang injunction shows, the city attorney is choosing size over function.
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Title Annotation:Editorial
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Apr 30, 2008
Words:309
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