Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Friday was scheduled to address the first graduating class of the city funded Los Angeles Violence Intervention Training Academy. Expected to join him were Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck and county Sheriff Lee Baca. That's a lot of pomp and circumstance for a quasi-academic institution, but it's been Villaraigosa's baby from the git-go. He helped lobby the City Council to spend $200,000 to get the thing started, with the first “class” hitting the books in March. (Done so soon?).

Villaraigosa's office spends about $26 million a year on gang prevention initiatives, the academy being one of them. While even Beck admits that gangs can't be fought by badge alone, the jury is still out on the effectiveness of such programs.

Mayor V. has said the program's participants “have chosen to correct their life's path, to work side by side with our police department to bridge the gap of cooperation for the sake of saving lives.”

A statement from the mayor's office touted the school: “The first comprehensive gang intervention academy in the country is working to professionalize the work of interventionists by developing professional standards, curriculum and oversight.”

LA Weekly