(Editor’s note: The following letter, dated October 30, was sent from Captain Jonathan Tom, West Bureau of the West Los Angeles LAPD. He addresses year to date CRIME, LARGE GATHERINGS/HOUSE PARTIES, ELECTION ISSUES and COMMUNITY SUPPORT.)
The good news is that as compared to last Year to Date (YTD), West LA has achieved a 7.3 percent reduction in Violent Crime (Homicides, Rape, Robbery and Aggravated Assault) and a 0.4 percent reduction in Property Crime (Burglary, Grand Theft Auto, Burglary Theft From Vehicle, and Theft). This is on top of the 18 percent reduction in Violent Crime and 10.4 percent reduction in Property Crime from 2019/2018.
The only crime categories with significant increases YTD were Homicides at more than 300 percent (4 vs 1) and Grand Theft Auto (GTA) with a staggering +59.3 percent (537 vs 337).
Homicides and GTA are experiencing increases across the City with homicides up 24.7 percent (278 vs 223) and GTA up 34.9 percent (17,527 vs 12,989). To put these numbers in perspective, WLA Homicides accounted for only 1.4 percent (4 vs 278) of the City’s Homicides and 3.1 percent (537 vs 17,527) of auto thefts.
We believe that both crimes are up in large part because of Covid-19-related issues. Two of the four homicides occurred at short-term rental party houses, which had seen an increase in activity during Covid. These homicides spurred our efforts to address this ongoing issue and we have seen some success in reducing that type of activity through enforcement of the Mayor’s Safer LA Order.
GTA we believe is due, in large part, to more people staying home, which means they check their vehicles less.
This year we saw a disturbing trend of about 50 percent of the stolen vehicles having their key fobs left in the vehicles.
Through LAPD’s Senior Lead Officers, Social Media and community organizations we were able to get the word out to the community to remind people that although we are a relatively safe community, we all have to do our part to minimize the chances of being a victim of crime.
Be vigilant and aware of your surroundings. Hide your valuables and lock your vehicles, homes and businesses. Install motion activated lights and security cameras if possible and get to know your neighbors.
The criminals that prey upon our community generally shy away from locations where people are paying attention to their surroundings, that are well lit, have clear lines of sight, that have alarms and cameras and have animals that might be protective of the property.
The vast majority of criminals are looking for the most return for their efforts. They want to take things that are easily converted to cash while minimizing their chances of being caught.
We need your eyes and ears out there. We cannot be everywhere and rely on you being good community members by letting us know when suspicious activity or crimes are occurring. “See something. Say something!”
Rest assured that West LA continues to be one of the safest communities in the City and we will always strive to keep you safe, lower our crime numbers and address your quality of life issues to the best of our ability.
LARGE GATHERINGS/PARTY HOUSES:
Large gatherings/party houses continue to be a problem, but we have had great success since we implemented a more effective strategy about two months ago. We now have dedicated resources on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights to respond to radio calls for large gatherings/house parties.
While we do cite for loud music, our most effective tool is the threat of the Mayor’s Office disconnecting Department of Water and Power (DWP) services from locations that have received two Notices of Violation of the Mayor’s Safer LA Order. We have made two referrals to the Mayor’s Office for DWP disconnection resulting in one disconnection and one pending approval.
If you have concerns about large gatherings or loud music emanating from one of these large gatherings, call (877) ASK LAPD or (877) 275-5273. Please be patient when you call as I have heard that there can be very extensive hold times. Understand that in a city of four million people, our operators answer thousands of calls a day. When you do speak to an operator, be very
descriptive when you describe the nature of the call and ask for an incident number so we can refer to it later.
If one of your neighboring properties is being used as a short-term rental, you can go to https://planning.lacity.org to learn more about the City’s Home Sharing Ordinance. Please direct any concerns you may have to the Planning Department’s Complaint Hotline at (213) 267-7788.
There is a lot of concern about the upcoming election week. I’m being asked: Is it safe to vote at a polling center? Are there going to be riots? Should I stay home or keep my child out of school? Should I close or board up my business?
It’s understandable that people have anxiety right now. We are all feeling off-balance and uneasy due to the impacts of Covid, civil unrest, daily/weekly demonstrations, riotous activity in the wake of the Lakers and Dodgers championships, and the vitriol surrounding the presidential election.
Adding to the anxiety is the information being circulated about the lengths that the City of Beverly Hills is going to in order to prevent unrest in their city by closing streets — coupled with the rumors that the hotels in downtown Los Angeles have been booked to capacity for the week of the elections.
I want to assure you that we are in communication with the Beverly Hills Police Department and they do not have any specific intelligence or information about looting or riotous acts.
LAPD’s intelligence analysts scour the internet and social media for information about upcoming events and rumors of criminal activity.
As information is uncovered, it is investigated, shared and vetted with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners in the area and across the country.
There is no truth to our downtown hotels being fully booked next week. There is also no evidence that there are large groups of people coming to the city to create havoc here.
As always, we have to balance being reasonably prepared with over-reacting out of panic. While the City is experiencing financial difficulties, we have taken reasonable precautions to safeguard the lives and property of the communities we serve.
The majority of the LAPD has gone through advanced crowd control/management training and we are heavily deployed during the election week with contingencies in place to respond to any unrest that may spontaneously occur. We are also aware of our polling locations and will be ready to respond if there are any crimes or disruptions to voting activity.
If you haven’t already done so, get out and vote.
There have been rumors that there will be armed right-wing extremists at polling locations. California state law prohibits the “open carry” of firearms and for that reason, we do not believe that will be occurring here. If you see anyone with a firearm in public (including polling locations) other than a security guard or law enforcement officer, get to a safe place, call 911 and we will respond right away to investigate.
You have been incredibly supportive of the men and women of the West Los Angeles Community Police Station! You have told us in person that you appreciate our officers and sent us snacks, meals and dozens of letters, cards and posters of support to us.
I want you to know that we read and cherish every one of them. I proudly and conspicuously have all of them posted (see attached photo) in our hallway right by our back door.