It's a problem that's worse -- and more complicated -- than you think. I've talked to Marine officers in Anbar province who swore by their gang-bangers: No one else could spot criminal activity on a base more quickly; no one else could find so many holes in the base's protection.
But when these guys come home, it can become a nightmare -- with gangs equipped with military gear, and trained in close-combat tactics.
Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton has unveiled a new approach to fighting gang crime.
The strategy is to concentrate on the gangs causing the most violence, to have the courts impose "stay away" orders as conditions of probation to make it easier to return violators to jail and to use the abatement and nuisance laws that allow the state to close and seize properties where gang members congregate.
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