Gascón Downsizes LA’s Hardcore Gang Unit

Despite lawsuits, criticism, and a recall effort, the transformation of the LA County District Attorney’s Office continues in earnest.

The latest iteration involves the renaming and reorganization of the office’s Hardcore Gang unit. Dist. Atty. George Gascón announced last week that he would reduce the number of unit prosecutors from 49 to 26 and rename it the Community Violence Reduction Division. The unit will prioritize “prevention, intervention and community involvement efforts.”

The move has infuriated veteran prosecutors and victim advocates. It follows a steep increase in homicides and gang activity in LA.

“You have 700 open cases. Gang crimes and gang murders on the rise, and you expect 26 prosecutors to handle all of those cases?” Eric Siddall, vice president of the prosecutors’ union, told the LA Times. “It’s absurd.” 

Gascón believes gang cases are singled out for tougher prosecution and pursued by more aggressive DAs, contributing to inequities in the justice system.

“...It’s sort of this connotation of us against them. Bad guys, good guys,” he said. “There’s increasingly a disconnect with the communities that we serve.”