LA crime: Local, state authorities team up with federal agencies to combat violent gun crime

Los Angeles authorities announced a partnership with federal agencies Wednesday that will focus on combating violent gun crime in the city and county.

Operation "Safe Cities" is a response to the increase in violent gun crimes across the country, according to officials. Authorities blame access to guns, and the prevalence of ghost guns, as reasons for this increase.

"People in all neighborhoods deserve to live in safety," said U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada at Wednesday's press conference. "It's not right that people feel unsafe going to the store. It's not right that people feel unsafe buying food. It's not right that people feel unsafe walking down the street."

Under Operation Safe Cities, federal prosecutors will help train local law enforcement on how to categorize violent gun crimes so that the most egregious cases are tried in federal court. The new initiative will use federal resources and statutes to ensure that extremely violent gun criminals receive appropriately tougher sentences.

"Those who think gun crimes are a good business will need to think again," said Estrada. "Violent gun criminals are on notice."

Violent gun crimes hold higher federal offenses than they do at local and state levels. For example, a commercial armed robber faces a maximum of 20 years, plus a mandatory consecutive sentence of five to 30 years when tried federally.

"Violent crime destroys innocent lives and tears down communities," said LA County Sheriff's Department Chief Robert Luna at Wednesday's press conference.


Los Angeles Police Department Chief Dominic Choi said the initiative is meant to expand local law enforcement's "toolbox," which will keep serious, repeat offenders off LA streets. Officials said that the partnership between local and federal law enforcement is key because local law enforcement agencies intimately understand the communities they serve and the crime trends in the area.

While officials said that Operation Safe Cities is a continuation of what law enforcement has been doing for years, the difference here is the increase in the number of cases these agencies plan to prosecute federally.

"It's our duty to use the powerful sentencing tools that we have to address this issue," said Estrada.

Operation Safe Cities comes as Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón has been heavily criticized for his prosecution decisions involving violent criminals. Last year, the mother of slain LASD deputy Ryan Clinkunbroomer publicly criticized Gascón for not pursuing the death penalty for her son's shooting suspect.

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"You can't do this to families. We need to defend our law enforcement officers, and that's not – that's a disgrace," said Kim Clinkunbroomer.