June 9 -14, 2013; Washington, DC and Los Angeles, Ca.
Contacts: Director, New York Foreign Press Center, Alyson Grunder; and Washington Foreign Press Center Media Relations Officer Andy Strike.
Telephone: Alyson Grunder, 646-282-2837, email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Andy Strike, 202-504-6356, email: email@example.com
The six journalists from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala participated in the Foreign Press Centers’ Citizen Security reporting tour on combating gang and drug-related violence. The first leg of the tour was spent in DC and the centerpiece of the DC schedule was a "trifecta" briefing with WHA PDAS John Feeley, INL's Mark Wells and USAID's Mark Lopez, who briefed on U.S. cooperation and assistance in Central America. Appointments at the DHS Homeland Security Investigations unit, the Office of National Drug Control Policy and DOJ's Office of Juvenile Justice and Gang Prevention reinforced the message that "we can't arrest our way out of this problem" and underscored the necessity of involving community stakeholders. Michael Botticelli, Deputy Director of ONDCP, elaborated on the Obama administration's increased focus on the demand side and public health approaches. Additionally, the journalists had the opportunity to visit four DC social service agencies working on gang and drug issues and to interview former gang members and drug addicts. The journalists traveled to Los Angeles on June 12 for meetings with the LAPD, the LA Mayor's office, Homeboy Industries and the Bresee Foundation.
In Los Angeles from June 12-14 looked at local initiatives to prevent gang and drug violence. The journalists received briefings from academic experts at UCLA who presented tested models of violence prevention focused on community oriented policing, direct intervention with gang members, and intensified social services to the most at-risk neighborhoods. The journalists spent an entire day with the Los Angeles Police Department, receiving an overview briefing from Deputy Chief Green on the community policing reforms instituted by the LAPD since the Rodney King incident and riots of the early 1990s, and then visiting the Mission District police station where community leaders and social service providers discussed their cooperation efforts and programs. The journalists also toured the Mission District via police van to observe gang hot spots and practices. On the final day, the journalists visited Homeboy Industries, which has been offering employment, tattoo removal, counseling and other services to ex-gang members for 25 years. The journalists also interviewed Los Angeles Deputy Mayor Guillermo Cespedes who leads the City’s Gang Reduction and Youth Development (GRYD) initiatives and works with USAID on the links between Central American and U.S. gang members. The last meeting was at the Bresee Foundation Community Center in LA’s Rampart District which has a GRYD grant to work with at-risk youth.