Los Angeles: Last December, Commander Pat Gannon started the Crime Surveillance Team at the 77th Street Police Station. In less than two months, a handful of officers have racked up an astonishing number of arrests.
"Unfortunately, the 10-square-mile area of the 77th Street Area is one of the most violent areas of Los Angeles," said Commander Gannon, who commands the 77th Street Police Station. "We needed a team of skilled, experienced officers who could seek out crime and the criminals most responsible for it."
In 2006, 681 shootings took place within the 77th Street Area’s boundaries. That resulted in 325 persons shot and 67 killed. In addition, suspects committed 1,500 robberies, the vast majority on the street against persons passing by.
Since its inception, the 77th Crime Surveillance Team has arrested 49 persons for felony crimes. About 60 percent of those arrests were of gang members. Five of those arrests were for attempted murder, all committed by local gang members. Nearly half of the arrests were for robbery, the majority of which were committed by gang members.
Robberies along Figueroa Street were what attracted the surveillance team to the apartment in the 4600 block of Figueroa Street last night. As two of the team’s members prepared to watch three gang members loitering out front, the officers were confronted with one of the most harrowing scenarios any officer can experience, an armed gunman running toward them.
Officers Mike Pace, 30, and Danny Mendez, 27, were in plain clothes, driving an unmarked vehicle when they noticed three gang members in front of the apartment. The officers turned their car around to drive down a side street and park.
One of the gang members, Anthony Dale Lavell, ran across the four lanes of Figureoa Street, chasing the officers’ car with a gun in his hand, yelling, "Where you from?" The assault resulted in the officers returning gunfire at Lavell, who was wounded, but is expected to recover. Two of Lavell’s bullets impacted the officers’ car, but neither officer was wounded. Officers detained three more gang members and found two more guns in the apartment complex.
Chief William Bratton and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa praised the officers’ actions and dedication to protecting the community, and they commended the entire surveillance team for its service.