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Forty-eight hours later, the mayor and police chief held yet another press conference, standing before a dozen news cameras to talk about the city's steady progress in fighting crime during the prior 12 months. On January 2, 2007, Villaraigosa once again boasted that crime had fallen to levels not seen since the late 1950s, just as he had done one year earlier.
And so the cycle started anew. Villaraigosa introduced a new wrinkle this time, promising that 2007 will be the year L.A. focuses on gangs. This time around, the city would have a comprehensive plan for stopping the killings. This time around, the City Council — the same people who blanched at even the smallest budget cut, who froze at the thought of a publicly voted tax — would debate yet another tax, this one devoted to anti-gang programs. This time around, the LAPD would target the toughest gangs, even as the size of the force expanded by a tiny margin.
In other words, much of the script was the same. The mayor started 2007 by calling gang crime unacceptable. He declared that Los Angeles is the second-safest big city in the nation, second only to New York. And Los Angeles continued living in an era in which the end of murder is tantalizingly within reach, yet utterly beyond its grasp.
In this issue, the Z Files looks at a long-awaited report on how to cut gang killings and violence. See page 28.