Approximately 40 neighbors, mostly from the area around lower Canyon Drive, attended a crime and security meeting held February 19th at a home on Canyon Drive. LAPD Captain Beatrice Girmala and Senior Lead Officer Mike Shea spoke to the gathering of residents, and were followed by Neighborhood Prosecutor Will Rivera and Council District 4 Field Deputies Sharon Shapiro and Jullian Harris-Calvin.
It is reassuring to know that although we are only two months into the year, there is no discernable spike in crime in 2009 thus far and the violent crime in our neighborhood is historically negligible.
Car break-ins and home break-ins are the most frequent crime here and the recent shooting near the park was in fact an isolated incident. In this case, alleged gang members kidnapped another person (believed to also be a gang member) and drove to the entrance of the park. When they found the park closed they ordered the man to get of the car, shot him several times and left him there. The victim survived but would not press charges, as often happens in gang-related incidents. There was no police chase involved as was rumored.
Two other crimes that were recently talked about in the neighborhood actually occurred last year. Those were a street robbery near Birds restaurant about 4 months ago, and a rape on Taft last summer. While these are serious crimes, taken together, they do not constitute a crime.
In response to requests from neighbors, Councilman Tom LaBonge’s office is working with the department of Parks and Recreation to post signs on Canyon and Bronson indicating that the park is closed from dawn until dusk. They promise to have these in place soon and hope that they will prevent people from speeding up towards the park at night (only to find it closed and speed out of the neighborhood).
In addition to the update in regard to incidents, Officer Shea communicated some practical information to those assembled.
It is important to file a report at the police station for any crime no matter how big or small. Even when it comes to non-violent crimes like mail theft, it is impossible for the police to recognize any patterns if those crimes go unreported. And crimes for our area only “count” for the purpose of LAPD statistics and resources if they are reported.
Although 911 is just for emergencies and crimes in progress, for other situations dial 877-ASK-LAPD (877-2755273). If you don’t remember that number you can also dial 311 and ask to be connected to an LAPD non-emergency operator. Examples of what might merit a non-emergency call are someone acting suspiciously but not committing a crime; a paparazzi sitting in the red zone, etc. He told the crowd assembled not to be hesitant about using this number. All calls emergency and non-emergency are dispatched from a single location in the Valley. Thus, it does not speed up response to call the Hollywood station directly.
Some of the most effective crime deterrents, according to Mike Shea, are timer-controlled lights in and around your house, and keeping doors and windows always locked when you are not home. Locking your car and keeping its windows closed are important, as is removing any items of value from plain sight.
The average LAPD emergency response time for Hollywood is 4.8 minutes, compared to more than 6 minutes citywide. Non-emergency calls obviously get lower priority than a crime in progress (“Someone is crawling through my neighbor’s window”) or a violent crime against a person. However, the LAPD does respond to each and every call, even if it takes a couple of hours and the person calling has long gone to back to sleep.
You may notice a police car parked in various locations around the neighborhood from time to time. This is something LAPD does to make a statement that they are present.
Officer Shea suggested that neighbors knowing each-other and keeping in touch with each other, as well as with LAPD and the council office, is indeed the best way to keep our area safe. Mike Shea’s number is listed under “useful numbers” on this website and he is always happy to talk to residents about any issues of concern.
In addition, Captain Girmala, who was raised in Hollywood and still lives here, has a particular professional and personal commitment to our area. She also makes herself highly accessible and can be reached at 213-972-2900 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. In regard to panhandlers in the commercial areas of Franklin Avenue, she advised that we be cautious when being asked for money. Giving money in these situations may contribute to an atmosphere where handouts are readily available. She went on to add that when dealing with door-to-door solicitors, residents should follow their instincts and if “something doesn’t feel quite right,’ it is absolutely alright to call the non-emergency line.
Neighborhood Prosecutor Will Rivera pointed out that the Hollywood Police Advisory Board convenes on the last Tuesday of every month, and the meetings are public. More info is available here. The LAPD also has a website that aims to bring community policing to the internet.