06/11/2010 06:14 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Congratulations LAVITA Graduates!

Today we took a monumental step forward in our efforts to fight gang violence. I was proud to join Chief Charlie Beck, Sheriff Lee Baca, and staff members from the Office of Gang Reduction and Youth Development as we promoted our first graduating class of comprehensive gang intervention workers.

The Los Angeles Violence Intervention Training Academy (LAVITA) professionalizes the work of gang intervention workers by developing an academic curriculum and creating the oversight necessary to draw clear lines of accountability. By providing a critical platform for continued learning and improvement, both in the classroom and in our communities, this program challenges the true commitment of each individual. And by working side by side with our police department, graduates will bridge the gap of cooperation for the sake of saving lives.

This academy is the first program of its kind in the entire country, and is filled with some of the most talented and most inspiring people in this City of Angels. LAVITA graduates are people who made the choice to join us on the front lines of our gang-fighting effort. These are people who believe in our youth, our City, and our dream for a brighter tomorrow.

So, today, we not only congratulate these LAVITA graduates but we ask that they continue to help us in this fight to end gang violence. We ask that them to continue to build on a comprehensive anti-violence strategy that works to not only stop gang crime, but stop its root causes.

We ask them to believe in themselves, our youth, and our City. They are the better angels our City so desperately needs.