Neighborhood Watches Help Prevent Crime and Bring Communities Closer
-Published in Valley News Group Publications Week of July 3rd, 2018-
In the West San Fernando Valley, we are fortunate to have many of the city’s safest neighborhoods. One way these communities have worked together to prevent crime is by forming neighborhood watches, locally organized residents who work with the Senior Lead Officers at LAPD and my office. For example, last week I walked a stretch of the Los Angeles River with the Kittridge Neighborhood Watch led by Evelyn Aleman and LAPD Senior Lead Officer Bocanegra. This group literally “walks the walk” to report problems that need fixing, whether broken lights, accumulated trash, or vandalism.
In College Acres, an active group of resident volunteers make nightly rounds and have taken pride in their community. Some of their efforts are as simple as walking their dogs in the evening and keeping an eye on things. They have added visibility by wearing safety vests that say neighborhood watch. I liked that idea so much that I have purchased safety vests in bulk for other neighborhood watch groups that wish to do regular walks or patrols. If you are part of a watch group that wants to wear those vests while patrolling your neighborhood, give my office a call.
There are dozens of neighborhood watches in the West Valley. Some have only a few members and some have over a thousand. Senior Lead Officer Dinse makes regular appearances at meetings of the Woodland Hills area Neighborhood Watch groups and provides up-to-date crime statistics and prevention advice. This partnership between communities and LAPD is so valuable for information sharing and helps everyone work together. It is at the core of “community policing.”
I am proud to support neighborhood watches. Recently my staff and I were contacted by community members about the city’s approval process for posting signs on public or private property and were dismayed to learn about the confusing instructions. My team is happy to help any neighborhood watch member navigate the approval process, and I am looking into ways to streamline the city’s process. These signs are part of a neighborhood watch strategy that helps deter crime, and we should do everything to make sure the process is as easy as possible.
Before designing, ordering, or purchasing neighborhood watch signs, groups should contact my office so we can help make sure you know the rules and regulations, how to fill out any needed forms and are connected with the right people in the city if you have questions. While groups of residents can customize, purchase, and install signs that meet the size and standard requirements for private property without city approval, if a neighborhood watch wants signs posted in the public right of way they must first have approval from the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT).
The right of way is the area along the street, where “no parking” or other signs are typically posted. Signs in this area along the street must be the “official” sign, meaning be a standard design, and they cannot include the name or sponsor on the sign or any advertisements. They also must meet placement requirements to ensure they don’t impede access by pedestrians. Without standards the City and taxpayer end up liable if an accident near the sign occurs and it gets alleged that something about the sign contributed to the accident. While this may sound far-fetched, the City loses many lawsuits that seem dubious. Also, if the signs are not officially approved and LADOT receives a complaint, they unfortunately are obliged to take the signs down even if the councilmember loves the signs.
If your neighborhood would like to form a neighborhood watch or get more organized, please call my office at (818) 774-4330 and we will be happy to assist with connecting you to the local LAPD Senior Lead Officer to get organized, and explain the process for installing Neighborhood Watch Signs.
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