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TMZ’s Harvey Levin threatening to sue L.A. Sheriffs over investigation into Mel Gibson leak.

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By Robert Holguin

ATHENS, Calif. (KABC)
— A law enforcement “surge” operation is being carried out by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department four nights a week to combat gang activity.
The surge was under way in Athens Friday night.
This is the mobile command post here behind me… The sheriff’s department is essentially able establish a mobile substation inside neighborhoods where gang activity is heating up.
At the nerve center for the gang enforcement team, the sheriff’s department says this effort has already made a huge difference in some of L.A. County’s most troubled neighborhoods.
Story continues belowAdvertisementFirst they talk strategy. The sheriff’s deputies have just gotten word that a large group of gang members are gathering. The deputies form a plan, then more than two dozen deputies swarm into an Athens neighborhood.
It’s exactly how the gang enforcement team is designed to work, a surge of law enforcement in order to combat gang activity.
“It kind of gives them a sense of ‘a cop on every corner,’” said Sgt. John Hanson, a member of the sheriff’s department. “And for that period of time that we’re there, it’s not unusual for us to get 10 or 12 people coming up to say, ‘Hey, I appreciate you guys being here. Can you stick around for a while?’”
Hanson says the so-called “get team” has been around for 15 years. But since February, the 40 deputies and five sergeants now work under one lieutenant in a platoon formation. They operate Wednesday through Saturday, hitting the streets of L.A. County in hopes of saturating neighborhoods where gang activity is spiking.
“Instead of taking time to draw up a plan and bringing resources together that might take two or three weeks, we can deploy that night,” said Hanson.
The deputies in the enforcement unit are handpicked from the station from gang areas. They work alongside members of the Probation Department.
Inside the command post, crime analysts are working to map out the areas the team will target.
“Gang saturation is very specific,” said L.A. County Sheriff’s Lieutenant Crystal Miranda. “We focus on the gangs. The deputies in this enforcement unit are from the actual stations that we patrol.”
Friday night, the team responded to a car-to-car shooting, a stabbing and parole violations. Relatively speaking, a quiet Friday night.
Saturday night, the team will be in Bellflower.
(Copyright ©2009 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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From the LA Times

The Los Angeles Police Commission today completed two days of interviews with candidates vying to be the next LAPD chief. Officials hope to select three finalists by Tuesday.

The commission, a civilian panel that oversees the Los Angeles Police Department, met with 13 applicants. All but but two were LAPD deputy chiefs and assistant chiefs.

The interviews were held at the tony City Club downtown. The commission made no effort to conceal the identities of the in-house candidates from the assembled media, but it did sneak the two outside candidates into and out of the interview room through a back hallway. When a Times reporter attempted to pursue one of the candidates, an LAPD officer blocked the hall.

Commission President John Mack defended the the decision to keep the identities of the two outside applicants concealed. He said they were sitting police chiefs elsewhere and did not want it known that they were seeking the LAPD post. Mack said he believed that it was more important to protect the candidates’ identities than to inform the public about them.

With the interviews now complete, Mack said the commission would spend the next few days deliberating and vetting candidates. Barring any major delays, he said he was tentatively planning to pass the names of three finalists on to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Tuesday.

Villaraigosa will make the final selection, and has said he would like to do so by the time that outgoing Police Chief William J. Bratton departs Oct. 31.

—Joel Rubin

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From the Contra Cosa Times

CANOGA PARK – In an abrupt reversal, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Monday appeared to back a plan to freeze hiring at the Police Academy at least throughout the rest of this year.

Villaraigosa had previously denounced the idea of a freeze at the Los Angeles Police Department, adamant that the size of the force be maintained at 10,000 officers.

But in a news conference Monday at LAPD’s Topanga Station in Canoga Park, Villaraigosa sided with the City Council’s Public Safety Committee, which has recommended not hiring cadets in November and December to help reduce the LAPD’s record $129 million budget deficit.

“I care more about results than process,” Villaraigosa said. “I will support any proposal that maintains the police force at its current level. But I will oppose any measure that puts our police department in jeopardy and goes back on the promise that we made to the people of this city to make public safety the No. 1 priority.”

In endorsing the hiring freeze, the committee has noted that the pace of retirements and resignations at the LAPD has been slower than expected, and the Police Academy already has about 1,000 prospective applicants in its candidate pool.

Speaking ahead of a City Council vote on police hiring that was scheduled for today but could be delayed, the mayor said his administration’s progress in fighting crime could be set back with force reduction.

“This is progress we can’t take for granted,” Villaraigosa
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said, citing the city’s best per-capita crime rates since 1954. “Crime in Los Angeles is at a record low because our police force is at a record high.”

Villaraigosa said he could accept a slower rate of hiring for the Los Angeles Police Department in the face of the city’s projected $400 million budget shortfall.

“What I can’t accept is our going one officer lower” than the current staff of about 10,000 sworn officers, the mayor said.

Villaraigosa won support from neighborhood councils five years ago to impose a trash collection fee to pay for expanding the LAPD. The mayor said Monday he hopes that solving the budget crisis by trimming other services would allow the LAPD expansion to resume eventually.

He said he is “optimistic we can avoid a fight.”

Villaraigosa appeared with Councilman Dennis Zine, council president Eric Garcetti, LAPD brass and community leaders at the Topanga Station, itself a monument to the force’s growth by more than 800 officers citywide in the past four years.

The station’s opening in January is credited for many of the 316 officers added in the San Fernando Valley in the past three years.

Michel Moore, the LAPD’s deputy chief for the San Fernando Valley, said a decrease of 10 percent in violent crime in the Valley means there have been 488 fewer violent crime victims in the past year than in the previous 12 months.

In addition to proposing the cancellation of two months of academy classes, Zine suggests using officers restricted to light duty – because of injuries and other reasons – to perform LAPD civilian jobs unfilled because of budget cuts.

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