Ron M. Geltz, Head Deputy District Attorney Compton Branch Office of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, Councilmember Emma Sharif, Compton Unified School District Board of Trustees Vice-President Satra Zurita, Mayor Pro Tem Janna Zurita, Compton Station Captain Myron Johnson,Mayor Aja Brown, Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell, U.S. Attorney Eileen Decker, William Lansdowne, Strategic Site Liaison for the Compton Violence Reduction Network Program for the Department of Justice and City Attorney Craig J. Cornwell. (D’Angelo’s Photos / City of Compton)
On Thursday October 15, U.S. Attorney Eileen Decker joined Compton Mayor Aja Brown and federal and local law enforcement leaders and local elected officials to formally announce the selection of Compton in the Justice Department’s Violence Reduction Network (VRN). Participants included William Lansdowne, Strategic Site Liaison for the Compton Violence Reduction Network Program for the Department of Justice, Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell, LASD Compton Station Captain Myron Johnson, Ron M. Geltz, Head Deputy District Attorney Compton Branch Office of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, Mayor Pro Tem Janna Zurita, Councilmember Emma Sharif, City Attorney Craig Cornwell and Compton Unified School District Board of Trustees Vice-President Satra Zurita.
United States Attorney Decker commented: “For decades, Compton has been deeply affected by violence linked to gangs and other criminal activity. The residents of Compton deserve safe neighborhoods and parks where their children can play. We are committed to helping city officials and Sheriff McDonnell make meaningful and long-lasting improvements to the daily lives of Compton residents.”
“The City of Compton is extremely pleased to partner with the DOJ and the entire VRN team to enhance public safety in a dynamic and strategic way,” said Mayor Brown. “The VRN is definitely a game changer for public safety in Compton that will positively impact the quality of life for our entire community.”
Compton becomes part of the second group of cities to become part of VRN, which was launched last year to create opportunities for cities to directly engage with the United States Department of Justice in developing strategies to combat chronic, violent crime. The two-year program will enable Sheriff’s Department officials at the Compton Station to work closely with the Department of Justice and city officials to address 12 key areas, including gang violence and prevention, human trafficking, mental illness and homelessness, at-risk youth and trust-building in the community.
William Lansdowne, Strategic Site Liaison for the Compton Violence Reduction Network Program for the Department of Justice added: “Compton was selected to be a part of the Violence Reduction Network because it was felt after extensive research that the City and its administration were ready to embrace new ideas and innovation to create a sustainable and safer city while working in partnership with the Justice Department. Mayor Brown is seen by the VRN Program as a champion for change. Her positive can-do attitude and her pride in the City of Compton was a key component in the selection.”
“The selection of Compton as a VRN city will allow us to build upon the foundation, relationship, and goals that we’ve already established with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department,” said Mayor Pro Tem Janna Zurita. “I’m proud that Compton has been recognized for its commitment to reducing crime and trying new approaches and I’m looking forward to working with our new federal partners in this effort.”
As part of the Violence Reduction Network, an Assistant United States Attorney has been designated to work out of the Sheriff’s Department’s Compton Station to coordinate resources. The United States Attorney’s Office also will work closely with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office to coordinate criminal prosecutions in federal and state courts.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell added: “Working together the Sheriff’s Department, the District Attorney’s Office, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office will bring our collective talent and best thinking in the nation to this community as we work to reduce violence and to innovate intervention, enforcement and community trust building strategies.”
Four Justice Department agencies have committed significant resources and will work closely with the Sheriff’s Department. Those agencies are the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the United States Marshals Service; the Drug Enforcement Administration; and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
“The VRN is a warning to anyone in Compton causing problems,” remarked CUSD Vice-President Satra Zurita. “The DOJ, FBI, DEA, ATF, DA and every other law enforcement agency with initials is in town now. Compton will be a model city in the next two years thanks to the resources and partnerships provided by the Justice Department’s VRN Program.”
The Violence Reduction Network will provide the Sheriff’s Department with technical assistance and access to resources as part of a robust violent crime strategy that will be supported by federal law enforcement agencies. The Justice Department program seeks to maximize resources to ensure that cities dealing with chronic violence have a strategic way to access resources such as training and exposure to evidence-based best practices across the country. Compton was selected to be part of VRN, in part, because of LASD Sheriff McDonnell’s recognition of the value and benefits presented by this unique opportunity, as well as the deep commitment of LASD and local government officials to partnerships and civic engagement aimed at crime reduction.
For the next two years, the Sheriff’s Department and the City of Compton will benefit in a number of ways. The core components of the Violence Reduction Network include expedited access to subject matter experts who can provide training and insight into the critical issues – such as use of force, community trust-building and information sharing with peer-to-peer exchanges – that can provide a more thorough understanding of what drives violent crime and what solutions have worked in other cities.
In addition to access to training and evidence-based solutions to community-building and crime reduction, the Violence Reduction Network also enables Compton Station’s gang enforcement, narcotics detectives and cyber-crimes teams to strategically partner with Justice Department components on intelligence gathering, sharing, warrants service and major operations.