How 10 Year Olds, Not Cops, Spearhead Gang Prevention in South L.A.

The Leader of Los Angeles’ Gang Reduction and Youth Development Tried to Avoid Giving At-Risk Kids a Common Enemy

It seems counterintuitive, but it was one of the most important lessons I learned while leading Los Angeles’ Gang Reduction & Youth Development (GRYD) program in South L.A. and other neighborhoods. The police and other law enforcement officials are precisely the wrong people to be working on gang reduction. Los Angeles is fortunate to have a smart and diverse police force, and officers are needed to stop violent and law-breaking gang members from putting the public in danger. But the gang prevention focus needs to be on keeping gang-age young …

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Why I Long for El Swapmeet de la Alameda

The South L.A. Market Once Connected My Family to Mexico; Now It's a Memory of the City We Fled

I miss el Swapmeet de la Alameda, on East 45th Street where South Los Angeles meets the city of Vernon.

I miss how the smell of churros—cinnamon, brown sugar, and baked …

Why TV Moved Its Crime Bosses to Modesto and Oceanside

In Search of Grittier Settings, Hollywood Embraces California's Metropolitan Edges

At first glance, the setting for Hollywood’s newest gangland drama might be jarring: northern San Diego County, in the small city of Oceanside.

But you really shouldn’t be surprised, at least …

What the Heck Is the Mexican Mafia?

How a Gang Neglected by Wardens Made It Big Outside Prison Walls

In California, there are individuals who have been tried, convicted, and sentenced to prison—and gained significant power from behind bars. The sanctions of imprisonment have become the source of their …

The Shooting That Didn’t Kill Westwood

The 1988 Murder of Karen Toshima Was Not the Beginning of the End for One L.A. Neighborhood. But It Did Focus the Entire City on the Problem of Gang Violence.

Last year Los Angeles magazine published a list of the “Eight Crimes that Changed L.A.” The names and monikers of the killers and victims composed a grim roll call: The …

Why Gang Members Can’t Shoot Straight

Gun Control Needs to Focus on Gun Safety, No Matter Who Is Shooting

Six years ago, my husband Mark retired from the Los Angeles Police Department. After 37 years as a police officer, he still possessed three guns, which are safely locked away …