LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer, the Children’s Institute and the Los Angeles Police Department announced Thursday the formation of the Reach Team, which aims to support children exposed to gun violence in the Watts community.

The team will offer crisis intervention and support services through the Children’s Institute and partner organizations in the Watts area, where Feuer’s office said there were about 110 calls made in 2017 reporting shots fired, with over 40 percent of the calls coming from local housing developments.

“Shots fired in our community tear at the very fabric of our emotional security, especially for our children,” LAPD Chief Michel Moore said. “There is no excuse for a child in our city to be exposed to gun violence, and the Los Angeles Police Department will work diligently to ensure our most vulnerable residents are safe and supported.”

When a gunshot is reported in the Watts community, the Reach Team will be notified by the LAPD and offer a crisis response to the families involved as soon as possible, Feuer’s office said. Children identified for follow-up support will be referred to the Children’s Institute to receive trauma-informed health services and other support.

“Children deserve safe and secure childhoods, and when violence erupts into their lives, we have to step in and act, and that’s just what we are going to do,” Feuer said. “I have put Deputy City Attorney Lara Drino, who has years of experience working with abused children, in charge of our efforts to work with our partners to intervene quickly and effectively to reduce the long-term trauma children exposed to violence suffer.”

Feuer’s office also said it would conduct community outreach with the Children’s Institute within Watts schools, housing developments, community organizations and non-profits, and that children and families in Watts who have been exposed to gun violence in the past can also reach out for support.

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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