San Bernardino's anti-gang efforts lauded at White House

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San Bernardino's anti-gang efforts lauded at White House

Post  TumbleWeed on Mon Sep 21, 2009 10:25 pm

San Bernardino's anti-gang efforts lauded at White House

6:00 PM PDT on Monday, September 21, 2009

Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON - "Murder City" has become a model city.

San Bernardino, a town struggling to shake its lawless image, was recognized Monday at the White House for its progressive crime-fighting program.

A countywide effort to reduce street violence also was highlighted at the conference, meant to help officials exchange information about successful anti-gang programs and forge closer partnerships with one another and the federal government. Participants were chosen for their work on novel efforts that could serve as models for other agencies.

"Ultimately, we cannot get smart on crime in isolation," U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder told city leaders and law enforcement officials from around the country at the Monday conference in Washington, D.C.

"Ultimately, we cannot get smart on crime in isolation," U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder told roughly two dozen city leaders and law enforcement officials from around the country. "It requires the exchange and evaluation of experiences, and exposure to new ideas."

Among those invited to showcase successful programs was San Bernardino Mayor Pat Morris, whose Operation Phoenix has been credited with contributing to a sharp decline in the city's crime rate.

The number of murders fell by 45 percent, Morris said.

San Bernardino County District Attorney Mike Ramos and Redlands Police Chief Jim Bueermann, who each has launched crime-reduction campaigns in recent years, also attended.

Holder vowed to step up federal participation on local and state task forces and to include state and local representation on federal anti-crime panels.

He also promised increased access to federal data and research that could help combat and prevent crime.

Holder and Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske pointed to $3 billion in federal dollars provided to hire police officers and fund other anti-crime initiatives.

The funding, he said, is indicative of the administration's support for public safety.

The primary purpose of the summit was to open dialogue among agencies and cities with success stories to share. Few were as unlikely as San Bernardino's.
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Operation Phoenix

Fifteen years ago, Money magazine called San Bernardino the most dangerous city in California and the sixth most dangerous in the country. FBI crime statistics showed the city's murder rate among the top 10 for cities nationwide.

The police union began selling T-shirts featuring two vultures perched on a bullet-riddled sign that read, "Welcome to San Bernardino." On the back of the shirt, the words "All-American City" were crossed out and replaced with "Murder City."

In the years that followed, San Bernardino -- and cities around the country -- saw crime rates tumble, a decline generally attributed to a strong economy. But the violence increased again after the turn of the century. The city saw a spate of high-profile killings, many involving children and young adults.

Three years ago, Morris launched Operation Phoenix, which seeks to lower crime rates by coupling traditional police work with social services and public service programs.

"When you go out to do a domestic violence arrest, you're not just arresting the jerk who did the violence," Morris explained.

Instead, he said, a "street team" in place under the program provides services for children in the home, counseling for the victim and drug or alcohol treatment for the person responsible. About 30 agencies are involved with the initiative.

From 2005 to 2008 -- the most recent year for which complete statistics are available -- the city has seen a dramatic drop in crime.

Figures include a decrease of nearly 35 percent in auto thefts, an 8 percent drop in other kinds of theft, a 12 percent reduction in burglaries, an 18 percent decrease in assaults and a 15 percent drop in robberies.
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Even though the most recent federal crime stats show that San Bernardino remains one of the state's most violent cities, Morris said the city's inclusion in Monday's summit reflects an improved image.

'focus on crime'

Operation Phoenix works in tandem with the San Bernardino County district attorney's "Gang Protocol" program.

Ramos launched it in 2005, and his office has since filed charges against roughly 4,000 suspected gang members, he said. Like the other programs highlighted at the summit, it also tries to keep youths away from gangs.

Additionally, prosecutors have been aggressive in filing gang injunctions, which make it illegal for known gang members to associate in public, and officials have developed a witness-relocation program to stop retaliatory violence, Ramos said.

Both Ramos and Morris said they hoped the conference could help the region gain more federal funding.

"If they're going to give it to the auto manufacturers and banks, they should be spending some money on gang suppression and prevention," Ramos said, referring to the Obama administration's economic rescue efforts in the automotive and financial arenas.

Bueermann discussed the need for police involvement in re-entry programs for felons being released from prison.

Without assistance and access to public services, convicts are far more likely to re-offend, he said.

At the end of the conference, the participants met for 45 minutes with Vice President Joe Biden, who echoed the support expressed by Holder, Bueermann said.

"It's very clear that this administration is going to focus on crime," he said.

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Re: San Bernardino's anti-gang efforts lauded at White House

Post  P_LOKO on Tue Sep 22, 2009 1:47 am

That's crazy, I knew that San Bernardino has been at the top of list for most dangerous city in the U.S, but didn't know that it was actually considered to be the NUMBER 1 most dangerous city at point in time. Just like they article's a Lawless city. I want to see a picture of that "Murder City" Tshirt the cops were selling.

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Re: San Bernardino's anti-gang efforts lauded at White House

Post  W.Devil on Tue Sep 22, 2009 6:30 pm

heres one design that they had...this is recent though


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Re: San Bernardino's anti-gang efforts lauded at White House

Post  Drop Out on Tue Sep 22, 2009 7:10 pm


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