Taking another step in the fight against street gangs, Los Angeles city officials vowed Friday to redefine prevention versus intervention and spend more money on programs to quell the most serious gang crimes. Councilman Tony Cardenas, head of the city’s Ad Hoc Committee on Gang Violence, said he and more than 30 groups that work with gangs came up with a new plan after months of frustration about how the city spends roughly $78million a year on gang prevention, intervention and suppression. “At the core of what this comes down to is credibility,” he said. Though he declined to name them, he said some prevention programs have been getting money under the banner of intervention when those programs don’t actually intervene in gang activity. “It’s a first step,” Carr said. “We need accountability. A definition does not lead to accountability, but it leads to a framework.” Now, there are 61 interventionists, and about $3.7million is dedicated to hard-core gang intervention, an amount called far too low by civil-rights attorney Connie Rice in a critical report this year on the city’s gang programs. As Villaraigosa prepares to prioritize this year’s budget for the coming year, Councilman Bernard Parks says the new definition will help guide city officials in deciding which programs deserve city dollars. “It’s a major step forward for the city of Los Angeles,” said Parks, the former Los Angeles Police Department chief who heads the council’s budget committee. Up until now, the city has spent most of its money on prevention efforts such as the LAPD Explorers and recreation programs. But, Chief William Bratton has pointed to intervention groups such as Communities in Schools in North Hills as a key element in battling gang violence. Now, police regularly call intervention groups – often headed by former gang members – to squash retaliation and rumors that swell after gang fights, and they say the relationship has stemmed gang crime. Overall, gang crime has dropped 3.4percent this year over last, with a dramatic 26percent drop in gang-related homicides. Still, in the San Fernando Valley, crimes classified as gang-related have increased 2.3percent. But with no controls or measures of effectiveness, anti-gang groups have also been under scrutiny for their cozy relationship with street criminals, something experts say is key to infiltrating gangs. Earlier this year, Hector Marroquin Jr., founder of gang-intervention group and city-funded No Guns, was arrested in connection with a home-invasion robbery. Police say he was still an active 18th Street gang member. Communities in Schools interventionist Mario Corona is serving time in prison for possession of a pound of methamphetamine and a handgun. Yet despite the program’s murky past, the rising crime in the Valley and several high-profile gang crimes have pushed gangs to the top of city and state officials’ agendas. The shooting death of 14-year-old Cheryl Green by Latino gang members looking to hurt African-Americans last December amid rising racial tension has motivated City Councilwoman Janice Hahn. On Friday, she said she will keep alive her plans for a parcel tax of up to $40 a year. Now slated for next November’s ballot, it would raise an estimated $30million annually for gang-intervention and -prevention programs. [email protected] (818) 713-3741160Want 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 MOREGame Center: Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, 10 a.m.Under the new definition, intervention groups do hard-core, street-based mediation and redirect gang members to job training, tattoo removal, counseling and other social services. “The gang interventionist is the point person, the first point of entry of which a gang member can start looking at another way of life,” said Susan Cruz, director of Sin Fronteras, a Burbank-based group that works with youths caught up in the legal system. The move comes nearly nine months after Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa unveiled what was billed as an aggressive plan to attack gangs. And it comes three months ahead of a gang-program audit by City Controller Laura Chick that Villaraigosa believes will be a blueprint for effective gang-intervention and -prevention efforts. Despite appointing as the city’s gang czar Jeff Carr, an evangelical pastor with decades of experience working with gangs, Villaraigosa has done little else to develop or promote programs that directly affect gang members.