Recently, I hosted a Public Safety Town Hall with LAPD Deputy Chief John A. Sherman and the top brass of the West Valley and Topanga Divisions. Due to the two hour time constraint, not all of the submitted questions were able to be asked to our panel. Since I wanted to make sure that all of those questions got answered and shared with all who attended as well as our community members who couldn’t make it, my team and I have prepared written responses to all of the questions.
If you were unable to attend the event, it can be viewed here.
Questions from the Public Safety Town Hall on 4-4-2017
Questions about Burglary
What kind of things can our community do to prevent burglars from combing through our residential streets during the middle of the night? Do street lights deter these people?
Absent the threat of significant consequences, how do we protect ourselves, properties and property values?
- One of the best ways to help prevent burglaries is to know your neighbors and get engaged by creating a Neighborhood Watch Group. Street lights can deter criminal activity at night but a well knitted community is a 24 hour deterrent. Know what is going on in your neighborhood. Attend local CPAB meetings and engage with your local law enforcement and Senior Lead Officers. When you are away, have your mailed stopped at the local post office, NEVER post on social media your location when you are out. Let a trusted neighbor or friend keep an eye on your property when you are out of town. Use motion lights around the property, place plants in front of windows and have timers turn on electrical devices at various times.
If the house alarm (ADT) goes off, on average, how long does it take the police to respond? Is it worth having a security system?
- Security systems can help serve as deterrents. There are a number of factors that go into response times depending on calls that the local division must respond to and the type of security system that you use. Some systems immediately notify the police, some notify a security company which will only notify the police after they call to verify that the break in is real, and some systems simply sound an alarm and rely on neighbors to call the police. False alarms waste an officer’s time and can lead to fines for repeated calls.
Regarding property crime, what is LAPD doing to combat “knock knock” burglaries in the West Valley and what can residents do to help better protect their property?
- LAPD has had some recent success in combating the so-called “knock knock” burglars. They have been able to identify the culprits of some recent crimes which has enabled them to use best practices in responding and identifying more of the burglars. As with all protection measures, more prevention is better and cameras help protect not only your property but assist the police in identifying suspects. Also, participating in Neighborhood Watch programs and looking out for your neighbors make a big difference. Councilmembers Blumenfield and Englander put forward a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of West Valley ‘knock knock’ burglars.
My townhouse complex had someone break our entire mailbox housing and one of our residents saw the burglars taking all the mail. He called the police and NO ONE came. What do you suggest we say on the phone to the police to express the importance of the event?
- LAPD should and does show up when you call 911 for emergencies. They respond to numerous non-emergency calls and if they did not respond, it is important to go to the local station to file a report or file one online. Theft from US mailboxes is a federal crime and the US Post Office has a dedicated department to investigate these types of crimes. If you have information such as a description of the burglars, it is important to let police know that.
There was an article in the LA Times front page saying that LAPD arrests had declined while robberies have increased. Will you address this?
- Up to date data for reported crime and arrest rates is available here via LAPD’s website http://assets.lapdonline.org/assets/pdf/topprof.pdf and http://assets.lapdonline.org/assets/pdf/wvaprof.pdf. Year to date arrests as of April 15, 2017 for Topanga Division are up 5.7% and arrests in West Valley are up 11.7% over the same period in 2016. Arrests fluctuate in Los Angeles and elsewhere due to a variety of factors. LAPD prioritizes more serious crimes such as burglaries and violent crime.
Is something being done to stop the revolving door associated with the prosecution of the burglaries in our area?
Break-Ins need to be felonies. State law determines the level of charges and associated penalties.
Change the laws on burglaries, break-ins, and thefts. Should be felonies.
- A theft of items valued at less than $950 is a misdemeanor instead of a felony under Proposition 47 approved by voters in California in November 2014. Some burglars may get convicted of misdemeanors and jailed only to be released soon after to commit the same crime again and again. Others, such as aggravated burglaries where someone was home during the crime, are prosecuted and punished more severely for a longer time. Some frequent thieves are seeking quick money to buy drugs, and the more effective strategy to stop them from committing another crime would be drug treatment and a job/home. The County of Los Angeles oversees corrections, and local officials are working to implement diversion programs for these low level, but high frequency criminals. Engaging with State elected officials to ensure that local cities received needed funds for diversion programs and that certain elements of AB 109 and Prop 47 are reformed would be helpful. The West Valley is represented by Assemblymember Matt Dababneh and Senator Henry Stern.
What are the crime stats? Is there an uptick in violent crime?
- Over the last few years there has been an uptick in crime generally but still well below the record high about 15 years ago. In 2002, there were 58,000 crimes in the San Fernando Valley. In 2014, there were 32,000. But since then, it has grown to 39,000 last year. Burglaries have been steadily going up through the district. The Topanga Division has seen a steady increase from 901 in 2014, to 980 in 2015, to 1041 in 2016. The same applies for the West Valley Division where in 2014 there were 860, 995 in 2015, and 1095 in 2016. But, since the beginning of 2017, there have been two burglaries a week south of Ventura Boulevard compared to four a week this time last year. Up to date data for reported crime and arrest rates is available here via LAPD’s website http://assets.lapdonline.org/assets/pdf/topprof.pdf and http://assets.lapdonline.org/assets/pdf/wvaprof.pdf
Regarding patrol and deployment, why is there a lack of patrol in our district?
Do we as West Valley residents get our fair share of resources?
We’ve seen both a surge in population and a surge in crime in the West Valley. How can we be assured that IF resources are added for patrol, those wont simply be resources taken from other necessary crime prevention/protection areas of the department (i.e.: detectives, specialized divisions like robbery/homicide, etc.)?
In West Valley we typically have 3-4 patrol cars patrolling 33 square miles, 200k people. How is this adequate or acceptable? How do we get the resources we deserve?
How do we as a West Valley community STOP our law enforcement resources from being allocated to downtown or other areas?It really seems like the city is under policed—at least in terms of sworn officers on patrol. People bring up NYC as a comparison for policing ratios, but we understand there is a difference in tax and other revenue structures between LA and NY. Maybe it’s worth explaining why LA can’t have 30,000 officers like NY does—or can we?
- We have fewer officers per square mile than New York and are one of the most under policed cities in the nation. Currently we have about 10,000 officers. While Councilmember Blumenfield is always pushing for more officers and the West Valley’s fair share. However, police resources are allocated based on a formula that has been used for more than 20 years and is not subject to political pressures exerted by local leaders. It is based on a combination of factors including calls for service and population- another reason why it is important to file reports and call in problems. Deployment decisions, which impact how many officers are in patrol cars versus being assigned to other areas such as narcotics, white collar crimes or as Senior Lead Officers is determined by LAPD. The Chief of Police sets the overall parameters for the department and captains make daily decision about their division’s mix of officer’s responsibilities. Each division needs to assure that there are at least the minimum required levels of patrols in the street each day and they have the authority to move around personnel to do so. The Chief has expressed that more officers overall would be better but that he has enough to do the job. Although public safety spending makes up more than 70% of the City’s discretionary dollars, Councilmember Blumenfield has successfully pushed for and continues to fight for more police funding. He has been successful in helping increase LAPD’s budget every year since he has been in office. Last year it went up by over $50 million and the city council added funding for 300 civilians to take over desk jobs that have been occupied by sworn officers, allowing them to be put back in the field. However, no increase in the police budget guarantees more police in the West Valley. Even if they had funding to add thousands of officers, it would be difficult and take more time than you might think to recruit and train them and keep pace with the attrition of officers to retirement and other departments that recruit them away. The department is challenged in its ability to hire and recruit quality officers.
What are you doing to bring back or add police officers to this area?
- Councilmember Blumenfield and the local command staff are committed to making sure we get our fair share of resources and they meet frequently to discuss this very issue and other related issues of crime and crime prevention. As discussed above, the allocation and deployment process is complicated, formula driven and mostly can be influenced on the margins rather than fundamentally. That being said, Councilmember Blumenfield successfully pushed hard for permanent SLOs in Canoga Park and for additional resources such as specialized Metro officers, mounted patrols, and specialized units to address the temporary surge in burglaries. As a member of the Budget Committee, Councilmember Blumenfield worked hard to ensure that LAPD’s budget received a $50 million increase this year. He works closely with each police station in his area to assist them with getting the resources that they need. As discussed in the previous response, deployment of officers to stations is not tied to the Budget and LAPD command staff determines the best use of resources based on need and stats.
How can you be a good witness?
- If you are called upon to be a witness, or if you see suspicious activity or a crime in progress, observe and be aware. Take photos or notes of what you see. Be cooperative in answering any questions from investigators with facts and be sure to provide accurate information to the best of your ability.
How many or what percentage of LAPD officers live in the City of Los Angeles? How many in Woodland Hills?
- The location of any police officer’s home is private information that is not disclosed to the public in order to ensure their safety. Officers are not required to live in the City of Los Angeles. Some do choose to live in the West San Fernando Valley for the same reasons that others want to live here. Since officers may be assigned to stations anywhere in the City and may get different assignments over time, they may or may not be able to live near the station they are assigned to.
Our Senior Lead Officers also need to be understanding of concerns voiced by neighbors. Many of our neighbors feel like our SLO is not very responsive and doesn’t care. What do we do? Who do we speak with?
- If you feel as though you are not being heard by your Senior Lead Officer, speak to the supervisor, Watch Commander or Captain. Often times there may be a very easy solution to have your concerns heard and addressed. Differences of opinions can often be resolved by understanding on both sides, and most of the time the SLOs are working very hard to be responsive to local needs. Councilmember Blumenfield reports that most of the feedback he receives about West Valley SLO’s is very positive. The SLO program was put in place to better the relations between police and the community. He is happy to work with community members to help them improve their relationship with their SLO’s and to work with the SLO’s to help them improve relations with concerned neighbors.
Overall, the community, the WH Council, etc. are very supportive of, and happy with, the work of the Topanga Division officers in our area. We know resources are limited, so how can the community help the police?
How can citizens help police?
- Get to know your Senior Lead Officers who can tell you the best way to work together locally. Another often underutilized way to help is to volunteer at your local station. Every minute a volunteer handles an administrative function for an officer is a minute more that officers can spend in the field. Also, being part of your Police Advisory Committee or Neighborhood Watch makes a difference. Some Neighborhood Watch groups, like Tarzana South, are using a closed Facebook group with great effect. Calling in tips and reporting suspicious behavior is important.
What is the progress in getting more sworn officers on the streets and having certain non-policing operational jobs taken over by civilians? Is there a resistance to this idea?
- An unfortunate consequence of the economic downturn was to eliminate many LAPD civilian positions, and sworn officers have been doing many of those jobs. Councilmember Blumenfield was pleased to approve the budget for hiring 300 civilians to allow those officers to be returned to the community. Unlike some cities where there has been some union resistance to this idea, there has not been any in Los Angeles. This is probably due to that fact that everyone shares the desire to see more officers on patrol and we are in no danger of being over capacity. The biggest obstacle is resources.
Is there a plan to hire more officers?
- One of the creative ways to make sure that more officers are on the streets is by making sure that sworn officers get out from behind desks and hire civilians. As part of the 2016/17 budget, funds were allocated to get 300 officers back to the filed by doing just this. As of January 2017, about 198 civilians have been hired with a net increase of 49. Also, the Police budget was increased to allow for more hiring.
What is Metro’s role in putting officers on the street?
- Metro is contracting with LAPD to provide security services on metro, rail, and buses. The LAPD will staff this with about 140 officers per day working overtime which will be paid for by Metro. This contract will help create a greater presence of LAPD officers in our City and is a creative was to pay for it. Previously, the contract was held by the Sherriff’s department and the police presence was less integrated with LAPD then it will be now. Those officers will have the capacity to respond to nearby serious emergency situations quickly.
It appears an increase in population density in the West Valley is affecting our public safety. How will you address this issue?
- If the population greatly increases and there are no increases in resources, it is a problem that must be addressed. An increase in density does not always have a negative impact. However, if we use smart policing techniques, build neighborhoods in ways that are security conscious, and leverage resources from developers and others, we can help make our communities safer. With growth comes changes that we, as a City, must continue to adapt to wherever we live within the City. Most of the new housing that is coming to the West Valley is expensive and it is important to engage new residents in Neighborhood Watch programs and in the community more generally. Resources are allocated based on a formula that takes into account both population and call for service, so an increased population relative to other parts of the City may bring additional resources.
How many times do you have to call the police before they send out a patrol car out to see a car parked in your neighborhood on 3 days at different times?
- This depends on the reason for the call and available resources. There is nothing illegal about a car parked anywhere within the City of Los Angeles as long as it moves every 72 hours.
When the LAPD have many call offs and have to give mandatory overtime to someone who has worked all afternoon or all night and now have to work when they normally should be sleeping, doesn’t this pose a risk to our community by forcing officers to drive and have to make life and death decisions while fatigued? Isn’t there a better way?
- Yes, the better way is to have more funding for more officers and to find creative ways to get more patrol officers on the street. Work rules and deployment decisions for officers are made by the LAPD command staff and Police Commission in consultation with the Police Union and through the bargaining process. Information about the Commission can be found here: http://www.lapdonline.org/police_commission/content_basic_view/1072
Will potential federal cuts affect police and homelessness?
- City officials estimate $302 million total federal funds are at risk to the general fund, and additional funds could be lost at the airport and port. Of that, the City receives more than $100 million in crime and emergency preparedness public safety grants (ie FEMA). Last year the City received almost $50 million from the federal government for Community Development Block Grants. President Trump has proposed the complete elimination of these funds. This means that millions of dollars could be cut from Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, Domestic Violence Shelter Operations, the Handworker program, and the Affordable Housing Trust Fund to name a few. These programs help the City’s most vulnerable and, if cut, could make the homelessness emergency even worse. If these funds are cut, there will be corresponding cuts in services and/or staffing.
Additional Comments from Cards related to Deployment/Patrol/LAPD:
- Dear Officers, thank you so much for all you do! J
What is being done about gang affiliated graffiti?
- Graffiti is an ongoing concern and as soon as it reported, the City works to remove the graffiti. If you see it, report it to Councilmember Blumenfield’s office, 311 or the MyLA311 app on your phone.
Where are these criminals coming from?
- There are no stats to support a specific area for criminals.
Is the increase in burglaries related to organized crime?
- LAPD has reported that some burglaries have been committed by groups or crews that are gang affiliated. Not all burglaries are related to organized crime, but LAPD is investigating strings of burglaries to see if they are related to organized crime. Many are crimes of opportunity by individuals acting alone.
How do we stop RV’s from overnight and weekly camping on our street? Please stop allowing people to use neighborhoods as a place to squat. Surrounding areas have stopped this and Los Angeles allows it. So we are now the place the RV dwellers park. It is not fair to all of us that pay property taxes to have RVs and people living in their cars parked outside our doors at night. They should park in an RV center/park.
I understand City Council voted to rezone Ventura Blvd to allow overnight parking of owner occupied vehicles. True? Why?
Why is the city being rezoned to allow overnight parking of vehicles with people living in them?
Do RVS parking on residential areas increase our risk of burglary?
- As Deputy Chief Sherman explained at the Town Hall, it is not illegal to be homeless. The City in the past banned dwelling in vehicles to prevent anyone from sleeping in a vehicle on streets and was sued (see City of Los Angeles v. Desertrain). The City lost this lawsuit. The ban was found unconstitutional and thrown out. As a temporary solution to the problem, the City now prohibits vehicular living on residential streets but does not prohibit vehicular living on certain non-residential streets. This means some non-residential streets such as Ventura Blvd are available for the homeless to park their vehicles overnight. The City did not rezone Ventura Blvd or any locations to allow overnight parking. The City Council recently updated its law (L.A.M.C 85.02) which provides locations and restrictions for dwelling in vehicles (See attached link for a copy of the map, https://www.lacity.org/for-residents/popular-services/comprehensive-homeless-strategy-implementation/los-angeles-municipal). Under L.A.M.C. 85.02 Ventura Blvd was designated safe overnight parking for individuals living in their vehicles. Vehicles must comply with parking restrictions, meters, time limits, etc. on Ventura Blvd and anywhere in the City. It is a temporary solution and it is not an endorsement of homeless encampments. If you have an issue with oversized vehicles, please contact Councilmember Blumenfield’s office to discuss your concerns and see what restrictions or assistance may be available to address the problem location. Homeless individuals are not criminals but their actions, like anyone else’s, can be subject to criminal prosecution or nuisance abatement. More information on the limits around vehicular living is available here: http://blumenfield.lacity.org/limits_of_vehicular_living_in_los_angeles
Is it true that there is no OPG for motorhomes and if so why? What would happen if a motorhome stalled in an intersection? Wouldn’t they have to tow it?
- The issue with towing companies is not that the City does not have any. A number of towing companies have run out of space for large vehicles. The City is negotiating a new contract to assist the towing companies address their space concerns and the need to have large vehicle towing services for Los Angeles.
What is being done to address homeless encampments?
What is the short and long term solution to homeless encampments on the side of streets and under freeways?
What can the police or any other agency do about the homeless encampments on our streets given the legal limitations from lawsuits? My concern is urine and feces, drugs, and crime.
What is being done to address homelessness on valley streets?
What can you do about the transient homeless who are now residing on the campus of our church and have cost us more than a thousand dollars in repairs?
Homeless encampments need to be permanently removed.
Get rid of the homeless.
- Councilmember Blumenfield previously held a town hall exclusively on this topic and the video remains available here https://www.facebook.com/BobBlumenfieldSFV/videos/1128894373868674/?hc_ref=PAGES_TIMELINE His office works closely with LAPD, Sanitation, Los Angeles Homeless Authority and other agencies to get services to homeless individuals and to deal with encampments. It is not illegal to be homeless and the City and County are working together through a comprehensive plan to provide housing and wrap around services for the homeless. The LAPD HOPE Team, Sanitation, the Los Angeles Homeless Authority and Councilmember Blumenfield’s office all work together to provide services to homeless individuals and address the public safety issues even with the legal limitations. Sometimes it takes a while to gain the trust of the person who is homeless or they may have other issues which need to be addressed and by working together, we can increase our response to this issue. The City and County have created a comprehensive homeless strategy to provide services to those in need. If an encampment is located on private property, LAPD must have a Notice of Entry on file for the location in order to enter private property and engage with the homeless living on the site. The City’s strategy can be viewed here: http://clkrep.lacity.org/onlinedocs/2015/15-1138-s1_misc_03-21-2016.pdf and more information about the storage of personal property in public areas can be found here: http://clkrep.lacity.org/onlinedocs/2014/14-1656-S1_misc_03-22-2016.pdf
What can be done about the crew of “beggars” that appear at our shopping centers exploiting children to panhandle?
- Aggressive panhandling (in a threatening manner) is illegal, while simply asking for money is not. Panhandling on public streets is allowed but if people don’t give money then panhandlers will move to another area. If the individual is on private property such as a shopping center, the property owner is required to work with LAPD to legally remove these individuals from the property. Stores can prohibit soliciting money at their entrances.
What happened with the homeless (count) outreach?
- Within the next few months we are expecting to hear the results from the Annual LAHSA count which Councilmember Blumenfield’s office hosted and lead in portions of the district for the last two years. In 2016 homelessness in the San Fernando Valley rose by 36%, and in CD3 it increased by 44%. The number are still lower than almost all other parts of the City, but the percent increase is shocking and unacceptable.
Why are the police required to manage the homeless when there are not enough police patrolling the area?
- Much of the responsibility to work with the homeless falls on other entities such as the Department of Sanitation, Social Services, LA Family Housing, LAHSA, and more. Police serve all residents of the City regardless of their situation. There is a dedicated LAPD HOPE Team that works directly with the homeless and other agencies.
Are laws in place that allow you to do your job?
- All jobs come with responsibilities and restrictions.
Don’t we have loitering laws? Most of these homeless are drug addicts. Isn’t that a police concern?
Loitering needs to be a misdemeanor.
- The State and City do have loitering laws which are misdemeanors. There are different levels of what is considered loitering and they are difficult to enforce. Where loitering is trying to be discouraged, signage must be public notifying people that loitering is not encouraged and the Penal Code must be displayed on the signs. Councilmember Blumenfield has recently launched an effort to put no loitering signs under all of the highway underpasses in his district to help give the LAPD another tool. It is a misperception that the majority of homeless individuals are drug addicts. Homeless individuals are subject to the same laws as individuals who have housing.
Homeless shelters—there are none for the children that are attending schools. We have so many opportunities within this valley to set some up. I.e. with construction considered for a stadium—make it a city requirement to provide “temporary shelter” at a far end of parking lot. Or old DMV building on Sherman Way even to use parking lot only.
- The voters of the City of Los Angeles voted to increase their property taxes to provide more funding for low income and homeless housing. There is a opposition to adding low income/homeless housing in some West Valley neighborhoods that are fearful of the added density of apartment buildings. Some may be fearful of providing services to meet the needs of the homeless or formerly homeless. The City Council and departments are looking for locations for homeless services to be able to implement the services needed to get homeless individuals and families off the street.
How do you deal with the photo evidence of drug (heroin and meth) use on De Soto and Topanga?
- LAPD must observe an individual using drugs to intervene. Generally, photographs can be challenged in court, but are helpful.
People giving money at off ramps to buy drugs, how to stop?
- More education and outreach about providing alternatives to cash for individuals who want to assist.
What tests are there for driving under the influence of marijuana?
- The State regulates laws regarding driving and motor vehicles and is working on ways to identify the impairment of an individual under the influence of marijuana. At the moment, there is not an accepted test to determine impairment from drugs. Special Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) officers are trained to spot drug impairment and help with convictions by testifying in court.
What are the immediate plans of action to combat the recent explosions of drug users?
- Drug abuse by itself is a national issue and depending on the type of drug and there are specific laws depending on the individual circumstances. Prop 47 was supposed to yield $100 million per year for new drug diversion programs, but only has yielded approximately $42.9 million last year and the Legislature added an additional $30 million for services. The City has two applications—one through the City Attorney’s office and one through the Mayor’s GRYD department, to utilize the money. Many non-profits are also applying.
Why are teenagers allowed to smoke marijuana in their cars?
- Neither teenagers nor adults are “allowed” to smoke marijuana in their cars on public streets or property. Adult recreational use is allowed statewide on private property since the passage of Proposition 64 in 2016.
What are you doing to assist the drug addicted, mentally disturbed homeless on the street?
Please address the epidemic of addicted and mentally ill transients who are blocking sidewalks during day hours. This is a public health and safety issue by schools. Drugs, feces, needles, and trash.
I know you have to do 3 interventions and a posting to remove homeless encampments but when these transient “homeless” people are on the public streets or in a parking lot doing heroin or meth, how are you planning on ridding our neighborhoods of this issue?
- The Los Angeles Homeless Authority and County Mental Health along with the Mental Health Units of LAPD are dispatched when these individuals are identified. LAPD enforces laws on the blocking of sidewalks. It is illegal to block a sidewalk during the day but a challenge to enforce. The laws of their drug use are the same as an individual who has housing or is in the public right of way. More information about the laws regarding storage of personal property in public areas such as on sidewalks can be found here: http://clkrep.lacity.org/onlinedocs/2014/14-1656-S1_misc_03-22-2016.pdf Please see above responses on homelessness.
Is there any way we can control if not stop the use of marijuana in the valley by kids not above 18 years old? They are rampant in public high schools specifically Reseda High where a shooting incident occurred recently.
- Because of Proposition 64 which was passed by California voters in 2016, recreational marijuana is allowed for individuals over 18. Medical marijuana can be used by anyone with a doctor’s recommendation for various illnesses. It is still illegal for minors to use it recreationally and communities must work with LAUSD and their school police to rid the schools of all illegal drugs. The City does not have policy authority in schools.
What is being done to fix the damage done to this community based on prop 47/57? Heroin and meth need to be FELONIES. The consequences are fueling the transient epidemic.
No on 47 and 57. Recall Jerry Brown.
No on prop 47 and prop 57. NEED to be changed.
Change prop 47/57. Don’t allow criminals to be released.
Please get behind and support getting rid of these horrific props that are causing crime against us.
Repeal prop 47 and 57. Valley to be separated from LA.
Prop 47 has ruined our lives. How do we start the process to make a felony a felony again?
Propositions change. Bring back 3 strikes to protect us.
- Councilmember Blumenfield agrees that reforms are needed to these props and to related State laws and continues to speak out publicly. He thinks too many repeat offenders get out who should be kept in prison and off our streets. Like many, he is discouraged when repeat offenders are not held long enough to be deterred and are not being rehabilitated. However, full repeal is not going to happen given that the issues that gave rise to these initiatives and the criminal reform movement in California are still major problems—prison overcrowding, ridiculously high recidivism rates, racial bias in sentencing and incarceration, escalating incarceration costs that eat up the State’s budget, etc. He is pushing to see reform and equally important pushing to make sure Los Angeles and the West Valley gets it fair share of the Prop 47 savings that were to be designated for diversion programs. However, these are State issues best addressed by your State representatives.
Do any of you support AB 1408, seeking to bring reform to amend prop 57 and AB 109? We also support any legislation which addresses the concerns of the citizens of Los Angeles.
- Yes, Councilmember Blumenfield supports reforms to ensure that repeat offenders are not released to offend again. He will be following this bill through the Legislature to track its progress and see how it get amended.
Reporting Crime and Response Times
Where do you report suspicious license plates/people in your neighborhood?
- You should call the local LAPD station Non-emergency line or 1-800 ASKLAPD.
How do you start a neighborhood watch?
- Contact your Senior Lead Officer to get more information and assistance in setting one up.
Neighbors do what they are asked by LAPD. However, when you call the non-emergency number, wait time exceeds 30 minutes. What are we supposed to do?
I (as well as my neighbors) have waited 20-30 minutes on hold for the non-emergency help line, then ultimately gave up. Any plan to fix that?
- Yes, this kind of wait time is not acceptable. Councilmember Blumenfield and Councilmember Mitchell Englander, introduced a motion earlier this year to help address poorly functioning non-emergency lines and to improve and update LAPD’s outdated phone systems at stations. Not only did they insist that LAPD initiate a call back feature so that constituents won’t have to wait on hold, but also launched a report request to investigate and find out exactly what they need to turn this problem around. LAPD is working on alternatives to report non-emergency issues such as social websites and updating their phone system.
Where is Devonshire PD?
- Devonshire station is located in Northridge and serves only a small area of the Third Council District’s northernmost section. The majority of the district is served by LAPD Topanga or LAPD West Valley.
How do you go about getting speed bumps in your neighborhood?
- The City Council recently approved funds towards a pilot program for speed humps. There is specific criteria to have a speed hump installed and many streets are not eligible due to traffic volume, classification, or average speeds. Unfortunately the request for speed humps was so popular that Councilmember Blumenfield’s District exceeded the number of request allowed for our area. He will continue to look for funding to bring back this program to more streets in his district. For now, please contact Councilmember Blumenfield’s district office at (818) 774-4330 to see if your street has already requested speed humps.
Why has there been a lack of enforcement against illegally parked vehicles?
- DOT lacks resources to adequately address this concern and Blumenfield is working with them to address this issue. Parking enforcement officers are deployed in areas with the greatest shortage of parking, highest number of complaints about illegal parking, and much of the Valley does not have parking meters or hourly restrictions to be enforced. If there are particular locations where illegal parking is a problem, please call Blumenfield’s district office at (818) 774-4330 to report them.
What are the police doing about street racing?
- LAPD is working to respond to street racing. This is different than driving over the speed limit and typically happens late at night when a few drivers decide to race on city streets. They are notoriously hard to catch unless they crash, unfortunately. The Courts have ruled that in order to enforce a speed limit a currently survey must be in effect. DOT is in the process of updating all of their surveys to assist LAPD in enforcing the speed limit. Last year’s budget included funding Blumenfield fought for to complete all street speed surveys.
Why are so many people in a hurry to get to red lights?
- As Captain Neiman noted at the Town Hall, many people speed and drive unsafely especially in the Valley where the streets are wide and straight. LAPD Valley Traffic does enforce speeding laws but can’t catch everyone.
How can we get some traffic enforcement policing to the West Valley? The April 3 front page of LA Times articles on the surge in traffic deaths mirrors the complaints we’ve heard from stakeholders, and even police, about the lack of resources available. We understand this is more a policing issue, but it is significant.
There have been 6 fatal pedestrian accidents in the West Valley.
I have not seen a motor officer in my neighborhood in years. Since the PD has various locations, why does Valley Traffic operate out of Van Nuys instead of other stations?
No one stops at stop signs anymore. Any plan to fix that?
- LAPD Traffic Divisions cover large areas and their resources are in a central area for their service areas, such as the Van Nuys station to serve the entire San Fernando Valley. More education to the public and enforcement/ticketing/fines for not following the law are some strategies. In addition, the Vision Zero plan to reduce traffic collisions and fatalities has identified intersections and stretches of roadway that have higher than typical rates of crashes and will provide some modifications to those areas to improve safety. Councilmember Blumenfield successfully helped push for funding that enables LADOT to survey all of our streets. This process should be completed in a matter of months. Consequently, traffic officers will be able to use radar again for speeding tickets, and he hopes and expects this to have a positive and dramatic impact on enforcement.
I see people holding a cell phone, talking, and driving all the time. That is criminal behavior!
- It is a violation to use a hand held cell phone and drivers may be ticketed for it.
What actions are being taken to address the responsibility pedestrians need to have when walking? Many are seen walking across streets not paying attention or on their phones. They are putting themselves in danger.
- Pedestrians may assume they have the right of way but that is only true in crosswalks, whether marked or unmarked at intersections. Some pedestrian fatalities are the fault of the pedestrian rather than the driver, but the responsibility to watch for and yield to pedestrians remains with the motorist. Pedestrians can be ticketed for jaywalking although limited police resources are available for this enforcement.
Why is it legal to ride a bike on the sidewalk? This is a safety hazard.
- State law allows this.
Is Los Angeles a sanctuary city and why?
Does the LAPD work with ICE agents in immigration raids?
Are there adverse effects from the recent ICE raids among undocumented immigrants in the San Fernando Valley?
How do undocumented people report crimes without the fear of getting deported?
LAPD needs to inform and cooperate with ICE to transfer illegal aliens when released from LA jails over for deportation proceedings.
Close the border and build a wall.
Are there programs to help undocumented people alleviate their fears of being deported if they call the police to report a crime or suspicious activity?
What are you doing to protect our community from ICE?
How is your office and the LAPD handling the issue of immigration and ICE agents at Balboa Park while their children are playing soccer and in other areas of our city rounding up and harassing people who have not committed crimes?
SB 54 passed yesterday-Kevin de Leon’s bill- I am shocked this was passed, endangering our communities in the name of “sanctuary.”
- As Chief Sherman said at the Town Hall, the LAPD has been handling immigration the same way since 1979 when then Chief Darryl Gates implemented Special Order 40, which states that: “Officers shall not initiate police action with the objective of discovering the alien status of a person. Officers shall not arrest nor book persons for violation of Title 8, Section 1325 of the United States Immigration Code (Illegal Entry).” This policy was developed and has been the law of Los Angeles because the LAPD relies on cooperation from diverse communities and all residents regardless of their status to report and help solve crimes. The Mayor, City Attorney and City Council are all unanimous in their opposition to ICE from detaining individuals solely based on their immigration status as improperly identifying themselves as police officers. Anyone who is a victim of crime should report it and LAPD does not ask the legal status of anyone reporting a crime. There is no legal definition of a Sanctuary City and it has become a political issue more than a policy. LAPD officers have more than enough to do to prevent and solve local crime and do not have the time or staff to take on the immigration work of the federal government. The State Supreme Court made it illegal to hold an individual past their original detention lacking a warrant from a Federal Agency. There is nothing currently that prohibits LAPD from working with ICE and they do when the legal requirements have been met. There are free legal services available to immigrants at risk of deportation provided by nonprofit organizations such as the ACLU. There are numerous private programs and City information to assist individuals who may have questions about immigration. Questions about state law are best directed to Assemblymember Matt Dababneh or Senator Henry Stern and issues about federal immigration law are best directed to your local Congressmember, Brad Sherman.
What about wearing a camera makes a police officer’s job harder? What about wearing a camera changes an officer’s behavior?
- As with any individual, when you know you are being recorded behaviors change. It seems that most police officers and civil rights activists both support body cameras to document the interaction between officers and the public and provide additional information for investigations. Most people feel that it helps increase trust, accountability and transparency. However there are some officers who feel as if cameras can be an invasion of their privacy, a burden and a nuisance and there are some civilian groups who feel that the videos will be used selectively and with prejudice against them. The Councilmember supports the use of these cameras and has often pointed out the fact that in today’s modern world there are almost always cameras or cell phones capturing different perspectives and that the body camera is important because it captures the officer’s perspective. This can help exonerate him or her when he or she is in the right despite how an incident might appear from a different perspective and conversely can help bring accountability if that officers is truly acting inappropriately.
Sober Living Homes
What is your plan to deal with sober living homes operating among residential homes?
- Federal and State laws, along with voter propositions allow these facilities. Individuals who are seeking treatment for addictions are protected under the American with Disabilities Act, Olmstead Act and Fair Housing. The City cannot regulate these facilities and must treat people living in a six person sober facility the same as any other six people who live together whether they are related or not. However, there are rules about operating a boarding house and in certain circumstances this can give the City leverage. Also, if there are more than six people living in such a home the facility needs to be licensed by the State and this provides some additional leverage.
There was a double shooting at the club. What is being done about this issue?
- LAPD has investigated this incident and while this is an Adult Club, it cannot legally be treated any differently than any other business as long as it is operating legally.
Will police remove obscene billboards because they are in proximity to high schools where kids congregate?
- The First Amendment prevents the City Council from regulating content on most billboards. Obscenity is not permitted on billboards in Los Angeles. Billboards that have featured nudity have been prohibited. Individuals differ in what they believe is obscene and it is a content based decision, therefore removing signs that do not feature nudity or curse words is difficult.
Curfews for the kids and teens would be great. 10pm?
- There is a current curfew for kids and teens 45.03 (a) LAMC “Nighttime Curfew” that restricts the rights of juveniles to be outdoors or in public places during certain hours of the day. Such laws aim to establish a safer community and to better protect kids from becoming victims of crime or becoming involved in delinquent behaviors. The Los Angeles Municipal Code (LAMC) 45.03 “Nighttime Curfew Restrictions For Minors” states: It is unlawful for any minor under the age of eighteen (18) years to be present in or upon any public street, avenue, highway, road, curb area, alley, park, playground, or other public ground, public place or public building, place of amusement or eating place, vacant lot, or unsupervised place between the hours of 10:00 p.m. on any day and sunrise of the immediately following day. Enforcement of curfew gives LAPD officers a tool to disrupt gatherings or prevent illegal activity by groups of minors, but it is not aggressively enforced.
What are registered firearm laws regarding break-ins? How do you register a firearm?
- The Department of Justice has additional information on their website as it relates to gun ownership. Information about state firearm laws can be found here: https://oag.ca.gov/firearms/pubfaqs
The River walk in Reseda has become very dirty due to homeless population. I would like to know who is responsible for the cleanup and if nobody is, can we organize a time for volunteers to go clean it up through the council?
- The River offers great opportunity for recreation on the bike path and walking areas, as well as new and planned park spaces. There are numerous stakeholders along the river (city, County, Army Corps of Engineers, for example). Councilmember Blumenfield is working to have one agency as the agency to work with the numerous jurisdictions to address the issues along the river. He would welcome a community cleanup and actively works with his Beautification Team volunteers to keep the district clean.
What can be done about tent city going up behind French Quarter on Ventura? The trash and beggars on De Soto.
- If an encampment is on private property, the property owner needs to work with the appropriate agencies to assist. If an encampment is on the public street, sidewalk, or right of way, then Councilmember Blumenfield’s office works closely with city departments to enforce laws. See above information about homelessness and panhandling.
Drug addict encampment at Topanga and Clarendon is back. What are you going to do about cleaning up this mess permanently?
- Councilmember Blumenfield’s office has requested cleanups at this location on multiple occasions, and he has been pleased when LAPD’s HOPE team, Sanitation, LAHSA, are able to respond and remove trash from the location. This is an ongoing problematic location and all City agencies are working with the property owners to resolve it. It will however, not be a permanent solution until those individuals who are well known to LAPD will accept services. At this location, posting “No Trespassing” signs on the private property will help LAPD enforce laws. A development is pending for this property, and once construction begins it will be a less desirable location for the homeless to congregate. In the meantime, the area receives regular attention from Councilmember Blumenfield’s staff who will use every resource to address problems there.
Is there anything in the budget for some antique, old 1920s street lights for safety? I’ve lived on Lopez for almost 50 years. Good for safety.
- You can have street lighting installed in one of two ways. If there are existing DWP poles, DWP may install lighting. If there are no DWP poles, then the community can ask for street lighting under Prop 215 – Street Lighting District. In this scenario, the majority of the affected property owners must agree to assess their property taxes for the installation and maintenance of street lights. For specialty or decorative lighting, the community would need to agree to pay for the lights and the long term maintenance and usage. To start, you could talk with your neighbors to determine their interest.
Why have the residents of Corbin Palms not been surveys or asked about the empty lot on Haynes turned into a pocket park? This is a terrible danger to our neighborhood.
- This vacant property has been a nuisance for neighbors and some have suggested making it into a pocket park. There is a misperception that a pocket park is already moving forward. Councilmember Blumenfield asked the City departments to explore the possibility of a park and identify possible funding. Community input on the potential for this blighted site to become a better maintained local green space is not only welcomed, but will be actively sought out before anything would move forward.
My appreciation and kudos to the street investigation and enforcement who investigates complaints. My question is how is it possible for a property owner to be cited 3 times for a fence and landscaping on public property causing traffic and potential accidents and never get removed?
- The City makes every attempt to work with property owners. When there is a non-compliance issue, this matter is then referred to the City Attorney’s office to determine if legal action will move forward.
How are you trying to help with speeding and running of stop signs on Tampa (south), Vanalden (south) and Shirley (south)? So so dangerous—people walking, jogging, dogs being walked, etc.
- Councilmember Blumenfield’s office requests traffic enforcement from LAPD and will continue working with LADOT to improve conditions to make streets safer. The Valley’s wide flat straight streets are unfortunately very conducive to speeding. See additional information above regarding traffic safety and enforcement.
Can a strategy be put into place regarding the increase in cars parked and left and or being worked on in our community?
- Please contact my office to discuss your specific concerns (818) 774-4330.