In the first step toward possibly creating a gang czar – a position the Valley’s former top cop might want – the City Council voted Tuesday to spend $465,000 to hire a consultant to help organize Los Angeles’ anti-gang resources. In a 13-0 vote, the council chose to bring in a group headed by activist attorney Connie Rice. Over the next six months to a year, the group will study all of the city’s anti-gang programs and look at ways to determine how productive they are and how to hold them accountable. Rice told the council her group will provide council members with charts showing what organizations exist, what they are doing, how they are working – or not working – together and how much they cost. “From there, you will be able to make the right choice and go for the big solution,” she said. “We’ve been fighting gangs for 30 years. There are five times as many gang members now as there were 30 years ago. We’re doing something wrong.” “He’d certainly be a strong candidate,” Bratton said. “During his time with the department, he was creative in creating a number of key initiatives in the Valley, including the Jeopardy program and some of the better programs we have.” There are 38,811 gang members from 463 gangs documented in the county’s CAL/GANG system, according to LAPD statistics. In 2005, gang members countywide were responsible for 244 homicides, 579 attempted homicides and 2,620 felony assaults. The city spends about $26 million on anti-gang programs, although city officials do not know how much bang they’re getting for their buck. With little accountability, they don’t even know exactly where all of the money goes. Once Rice’s group finishes its report, the decision on whether to create a new city department headed by a gang czar becomes a political football. Cardenas, who said he has mentioned the idea to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s office, said he believes he can put together a strong enough coalition to make it happen. Deputy Mayor for Homeland Security and Public Safety Maurice Suh said the Mayor’s Office had not decided yet whether to push for a separate department. “I don’t want to presage what Connie Rice is doing by saying we are either for or against the gang department,” Suh said. “We’re going to value her opinion and not prejudge. “The big issue for us is whether the gang department would receive a constant, steady stream of funding it would need to remain effective. That’s the big issue.” Josh Kleinbaum, (818) 713-3669 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECasino Insider: Here’s a look at San Manuel’s new high limit rooms, Asian restaurant Rice is not recommending a new department yet, but many city officials – including Police Chief William Bratton and Councilman Tony Cardenas – said they believe the city needs one to focus on gang violence. “Whenever I talk to individual programs, the room gets kind of quiet when I ask about coordination and working with other organizations,” Cardenas said. “If you had a department head, someone everyone answers to, the buck stops there. We should have done this a long time ago. This is long overdue.” If such a department is created, Cardenas, who chairs the council’s ad-hoc committee on gang violence, said former LAPD Deputy Chief Ron Bergmann would be perfect for the job. And Bergmann is interested. “It’s come up in more than a couple different conversations, and it’s been brought up in City Council by more than one council person,” said Bergmann, who retired from the LAPD in July after 32 years on the force. “It’s not something I would want to do until the day I die, but there is interest on my part.” As the top cop in the San Fernando Valley for more than four years, Bergmann understood that fighting crime involved intervention and prevention as well as enforcement. He formed the San Fernando Valley Coalition on Gangs, which tried to improve communication among anti-gang programs within the area.