LOS ANGELES (CNS) — Although the west San Fernando Valley enjoys a reputation as a quiet area with a low crime rate, a new report approved today by the Los Angeles Police Commission found it is home to 16 major gangs and has seen increases in gang-related crimes over the last three years.
The report was requested by the City Council at the behest of Councilman Bob Blumenfield, who introduced the motion in August 2016 in response to a spike in gang-related homicides in 2015 in the area.
Blumenfield represents the west Valley neighborhoods of Canoga Park, Reseda, Tarzana, Winnetka and Woodland Hills.
“A lot of people can’t imagine the west Valley has these kinds of issues, and sadly we do,” Blumenfield told City News Service.
“I don’t want to over-exaggerate the issues but I want us to have our eyes open because the only way we are going to deal with this problem is acknowledging it and doing everything we can to combat it.”
The report — which analyzed data from 2014 to 2016 — noted that there is one gang injunction currently active west of the 405 Freeway, and that is against the Canoga Park Alabama gang, which has 375 members and is among the three most active gangs in the area, along with the Bryant Street gang and the Reseda Southside/Westside gang.
West Valley gangs have been known to participate in murder, drug trafficking, rape, carjacking and other violent crimes, the report said, while also noting that gang-related violent crimes have risen, with 177 reported in 214, 288 in 2015 and 289 in 2016.
Twelve people were shot in gang-related incidents in 2014, 18 in 2015 and 15 in 2016, while gang-related homicides rose from three in 2014 to four in 2015 and eight in 2016.
“(The report) is an important step in the process in trying to steer resources to deal with the issues in the west Valley,” Blumenfield told CNS.
“I don’t want to be alarmist about it. It’s not something that we should be freaking out about in terms of the numbers, but is something that we need to have our eyes open about and we need to make sure we are doing everything we can.”