DISARM, a multi-agency law enforcement program created by Supervisor Mike Antonovich, had a banner year in 2009. During early-morning raids using officers from a variety of agencies, including the Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department and state Probation officers, nearly 1,200 illegal weapons were seized and more than $27 million in drugs and drug money was taken from felons subject to unannounced searches.
Tony Bell, Antonovich’s spokesman, said that the program’s simplicity adds to its success. Teams create a list of locations where probationers are allegedly living and start knocking on doors before most of the neighborhood is up. Sometimes they wake a person who is working on turning their life around, but more often, they find violations of the court-ordered probation, narcotics, weapons or drug money.
In the last 11 months (statistics are only available through November), 18,153 unannounced searches were conducted, resulting in the seizure of 1,176 weapons, $27,275,341 in drugs and money and 1,862 arrests.
The acronym stands for Developing Increased Safety though Arms Reduction Management and the program was developed after the shooting at the West Valley Jewish Community Center. Since the shooting was done by a convicted felon who was in illegal possession of two weapons, the Supervisor felt that something could be done to marshal available resources and do some checking on those probationers living in Los Angeles County.
“This is probably the most top, bang-for-your-buck law enforcement program that I have seen,” Bell said. “What it does is goes after and confiscates weapons from those who have the highest propensity to use those weapons in the commission of a crime. We’re not talking about law-abiding citizens, we’re talking about convicted felons, that as a terms of their probation, are subject to unannounced searches.
“Most of these convicted felons never think they will be searched because we don’t have the resources to do it. Well, guess what, come 5 o’clock one morning, when they’re not ready for it, there will be a knock on the door and probation officers will be there to confiscate their weapons, their drugs, their drug money and making the public safer.”
Since its implementation in February of 2000, the DISARM program is responsible for the seizure of more than 6,000 weapons, more than $333 million in illegal drugs and drug money, and resulted in more than 12,300 arrests.