Thursday, March 31, 2005

City Hall Update: Public Safety

In my first term, I worked with many of you on reducing gang activity, whether it was by supporting programs like L.A. Bridges II and the Aztec Firefighters to give young people alternatives to violence and crime, or through our community effort to eliminate graffiti, UNTAG. Going into my second term, I've embarked upon a concentrated effort to address gangs and graffiti by bringing together the groups that work on different aspects of the problem, such as Bridges, Central City Action Committee, and the Rampart LAPD Gang Unit.

I was devastated to learn of the death in a car accident of a young girl who was crossing Santa Monica Boulevard with her mother. A request had previously been made to install a crosswalk on that stretch of the boulevard near Hollywood Forever Cemetery, but it had been denied due to wrangling with CalTrans, the controlling agency for Santa Monica Boulevard where it is State Route 2. Sadly, state legislation enabled a transfer of jurisdiction to the city was not passed in time, but we now have the opportunity to make changes to the street there. With the imminent opening of a school on that block, it is crucial to make the area safe for pedestrians.

Keeping an electronic eye out for crime.

Keeping an electronic eye out for crime.

I'm proud of how many new parks we've been able to open in Council District 13, but what good is a new park if people are too scared to use it? One cost-effective solution is to give police the ability to survey parks at a distance with cameras. I was able to allocate nearly $400,000 in CDBG funds to pay for the installation of safety cameras in eleven district parks. The cameras will be monitored by police and are set up to only view public space; the first one was installed in Lake Street Park in Historic Filipinotown. Captain Charlie Beck of Rampart Division compares the transformative power of cameras on community policing to that of police radios. His father was a police officer before the advent of radios and remembers when he had to return to the station in order to be dispatched to the scene of a crime.