An L.A. Times story reports on last year’s lower murder rate in Compton:
[I]t came as something of a surprise when the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, which contracts to provide police services here, added up the community’s 2008 homicides. The total for Compton, including smaller, adjacent pockets of unincorporated county land: 38.
It was the lowest number in at least 25 years and a 50% drop since 2005. From 1985 to 2000, said Sheriff’s Capt. William M. Ryan, an average of 66 people were slain each year within the city limits; that number fell last year to 28. Gang-related aggravated assaults have fallen too in the city and the county pockets, nearly 25% over four years — “dramatic indicators,” Sheriff Lee Baca said at a recent news conference, “that we are doing the right thing.”
It was fun for me to see that the story features my pal Joe Sumner:
Late on a recent night, Det. Joe Sumner, part of the sheriff’s gang detail, rumbled through the narrow streets in an unmarked cruiser. Sumner’s knowledge of Compton gangs is encyclopedic; put him on any block and he can instantly tell you whose turf you’re on.
This night, though, many blocks were dark and empty; they’ve been that way lately. Amid a concerted law enforcement push, scores of gang members have been imprisoned, and more have given up and moved away — to Riverside, Fresno, Las Vegas.
“There has been so much pressure put on these guys,” Sumner said.
Suddenly he jerked his car toward the sidewalk and bolted from the car. Two young men, documented gangsters, raised their hands, almost instinctively. They knew the drill. They lifted their shirts to show that they were not hiding guns, then spread their legs and put their hands on the warm hood of Sumner’s car while he patted them down. Sumner found no drugs and no weapons.
“Take off,” he said. To the younger man, he added: “Say hi to your dad.”
(I feel like I have to say this, because if I don’t, everyone will scream “illegal search!” — there could be any number of reasons that the search described here could be justified. For example, the gangsters could be on probation with search conditions. I don’t trust the L.A. Times to give you the full picture on that, so don’t go making assumptions, please. I may ask Joe about this next time I see him.)
Joe and I recently had a case where we went to a gang stronghold and took some pictures and developed evidence that took a highly circumstantial case and made it a lot stronger. He’s a very hard worker and always did everything I asked him to.
And yes, Joe really does have an encyclopedic knowledge of gangs in the area — and he’s from the area, so he really knows what he’s talking about. He even knows about my pet interest: the Suge Knight/Mob Piru/Tupac Shakur/Biggie Smalls cases — and has told me interesting stories that have given me insight into that world.
Interesting article; read it all.