By Edwin Folven, 9/27/2012
Command staff explains crime trends, use of force
In an effort to strengthen bonds with the community, the Wilshire Division of the Los Angeles Police Department held an informational meeting Monday at the National Council of Jewish Women, Los Angeles.
Updates on local crime trends and police use of force procedures were covered at the meeting by the command staff of the LAPD and the Wilshire Division. Residential burglaries, property thefts and auto break-ins are currently the most prevalent crimes occurring in the area, according to Capt. Lillian Carranza, who heads the division’s patrol officers. She warned residents and visitors to take precautions to protect themselves, and to be “good witnesses.” Carranza added that it often takes a partnership between members of the public and the police department to help officers identify suspects and make arrests.
“One of the main issues we are seeing now are burglaries and thefts from motor vehicles, where individuals leave property in plain view,” she said. “It’s usually electronic devices, phones, laptops and GPS devices. It takes less than thirty seconds to hide your valuables, and it takes less than thirty seconds for someone to break in and take them.”
The gathering gave residents an opportunity to speak directly with the Wilshire Division command staff. Carranza was joined by Capt. Eric Davis, commanding officer of the Wilshire Division, and Capt. Dennis Kato, assistant commanding officer of the LAPD’s Operations West Bureau, which oversees the police divisions from Hollywood to the Pacific Coast. Kato discussed police use of force, which has recently been an issue in other areas of the city. Kato said the captain of the LAPD’s Foothill Division was recently demoted by Police Chief Charlie Beck over his handling of an incident in Pacoima, where a woman was injured by officers while she was handcuffed in police custody. The officers involved have also been reassigned pending an investigation. Kato said the incident in Pacoima, as well as a controversial use of force incident involving a man stopped for skateboarding on the wrong side of the street in Venice in August, has prompted authorities to reach out to the public.
“The chief of police mandated that we go out into the communities and open a dialogue,” Kato said. “There are three reasons an officer can use force, to prevent an escape, to affect and arrest or in self defense.”
Kato said every use of force incident is investigated, and depending on the situation, the investigations can go all the way to the chief of police. All situations in which a suspect requires hospitalization are investigated by a team of detectives from LAPD headquarters. The outcome of the investigation is later reviewed by a panel of deputy chiefs, which presents its findings to Beck. Kato said the chief of police is the final arbitrator. Punishment can include firing or criminal charges in the most serious cases. Beck also must present his decisions to the police commission, which conducts a review. Kato said all the layers of review provide transparency, and hopefully give the public satisfaction that the department is handling police use of force situations appropriately.
“It makes sure we are consistent, we are fair and we are adhering to what we have been taught,” Kato added.
In some of the recent use of force incidents, and other crimes, footage taken by citizens and provided to police has given investigators a clear picture of what occurred. Kato encouraged people to continue using their cameras to document incidents and to send the footage to investigators.
“We had a shooting in the Valley maybe three months ago, and the only camera footage we had was taken by a sixteen-year-old girl who caught it on her cell phone,” Kato said. “If you are missing one piece, you may never get a good picture of what is happening.”
Davis added that the Wilshire area is one of the busiest in the city, and that crime rates in the area have declined steadily during the past decade until they reached a plateau this year. Property crimes continue to be an issue because of the large number of people living or visiting the area each day. Regional attractions like The Grove, and employment hubs such as the Miracle Mile, can be attractive to thieves. Davis said he receives an update of all crimes occurring within the division every 24 hours, and delineates resources based on that data. He stressed, however, that community partnership is key.
“We take all reports of crime very seriously,” Davis added. “We want to work together. We need your help in identifying what our priorities should be.”
Tags | LAPD Wilshire Division