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Shooting prompts gun sweeps

Probation officers conduct unannounced searches as part of D.I.S.A.R.M. program

Posted: August 10, 2009 9:09 p.m.
Updated: August 11, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich points to a display of weapons during a news conference Monday. Antonovich initiated the D.I.S.A.R.M. program in response to the August 1999 shootings at the North Valley Jewish Community Center in Granada Hills.

 
A program initiated by Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich in response to the North Valley Jewish Community Center shooting has resulted in the confiscation of 5,812 weapons from convicted criminals in Los Angeles County since its inception in February 2000.

"It's been a very effective program," Antonovich said at a news conference Monday.

"People were shot unmercifully by a man (from) the state of Washington who came here and illegally possessed guns," the supervisor said.

Buford O. Furrow opened fire at the Jewish Community Center on Aug. 10, 1999. He injured five members of the Jewish community and later murdered a postal worker. Furrow, from Washington state, was found to be on probation.

"After that tragic event, we reviewed policies within the county of Los Angeles and found that probationers who are released retain their weapons," Antonovich said. "So we want to have an aggressive program in the county of Los Angeles to correct that problem."
The result was D.I.S.A.R.M., or Developing Increased Safety through Arms Reduction Management.

Under the program, deputy probation officers work with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department to conduct unannounced searches on probationers and their homes.

Joined by Los Angeles County Probation Department Chief Robert Taylor, Antonovich announced Monday the ongoing success of the program.

"This past month of July we arrested 145 and confiscated 127 weapons, including assault weapons, handguns and shotguns, rifles, (and) nearly $100,000 in illegal drugs," he said.

The program has also seized more than $300 million in illegal drugs and drug money, and resulted in 11,670 arrests since its inception, according to information released by Antonovich's office.

When the program began, 55 percent of those on probation were found to be out of compliance with the law, many of them having firearms in their possession.

Because of the program, today there are less than 10 percent of probationers who are out of compliance, Antonovich said.

"It's a sad day and a sad commemoration and, of course, we think of the victims and their loved ones today," said Tony Bell, spokesman for Antonovich.

"But we also want to talk about the good that has transpired as a result, and that is: nearly 6,000 guns taken away from criminals with the propensity to use those guns."

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