Sheriffs talk stolen safes, scooter penalties at Public Safety meeting

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West Hollywood’s Public Safety Commission meeting received their monthly report Monday night from Lts. Fanny Lapkin and Jason Duron of the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department’s West Hollywood Station.

They reported that West Hollywood station personnel responded to 1,579 calls for service. Deputies made 36 felony arrests and 72 misdemeanor arrests within that month.

Part 1 crimes totaled 2,442 for the entire year, which is down approximately 6% from last year. 

Regarding a high-profile burglary, the lieutenants said, “On December 22nd, there was a burglary on the 8600 block of Melrose Avenue. During the commission of that burglary, two Andy Warhol prints valued at over $90,000 were stolen from the location. Our detectives worked with the victim and another business owner in the city of West Hollywood to conduct an operation. The suspect was attempting to sell those prints. Our detectives were able to arrest the suspect and recover the stolen artwork. The suspect was charged with numerous crimes, including burglary and grand theft.”

A traffic stop leading to significant arrests was also highlighted: “On December 28th, deputies assigned to our holiday crime suppression team conducted a traffic stop for a minor violation. During the stop, they discovered that the driver was on active probation and the passenger had a warrant for their arrest. During the investigation, deputies recovered fentanyl consistent with the amount indicative of narcotic sales. A large amount of cash was also recovered. Both the driver and the passenger were arrested.”

Another incident involved an attempted burglary: “On December 29th, on the 900 block of Doheny Drive, there were individuals attempting to break into the secured parking area of a residential apartment complex. Deputies were able to arrive at the scene and arrest all three for attempted burglary and mail theft.”

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The report concluded with a briefing about successful operations by narcotics detectives: “Last week, January 3rd through the 5th, narcotics detectives assigned to West Hollywood Station worked with our EPT and COPS teams to conduct two search warrants. These warrants were based on information and crimes committed in the city of West Hollywood. As a result of the warrants, several suspects were arrested and several pounds of methamphetamine, cocaine, fentanyl, a loaded firearm, ammunition, and a large sum of un’s currency were recovered. These suspects were supplying narcotics to the community of West Hollywood.”

Additionally, progress was reported on a case involving a wanted suspect: “During last month’s meeting, we mentioned that our detectives were actively searching for a burglary suspect, also wanted for an arson on the 1200 block of Crescent Heights Boulevard. A press release was prepared and distributed via various media sources. Numerous tips were received that aided in our investigation. On January 2nd, the suspect was located staying at a local motel. Deputies were able to arrest the suspect, and felony charges had been filed against that suspect.”

Commissioner George Nickle initiated the discussion by mentioning a previous email about a person who attempted to break into mail and then set a fire. The sheriffs confirmed catching the suspect and issuing a press release with the person’s name and photo. Such releases are not always done but were deemed necessary in this case. The release helped gather tips leading to the arrest.

Another point discussed was the usefulness of minor traffic stops in law enforcement. It was noted that these stops can lead to significant outcomes, such as preventing crimes. An example was given where minor stops in West Hollywood led to the discovery of firearms and ski masks in a vehicle. Removing the ability to conduct such stops was seen as detrimental to city safety.

The topic of burglaries in the Dorrington and Rangely areas was brought up. The sheriff’s crime analyst had been coordinating with analysts from neighboring cities. Lieutenant Lapkin confirmed that these discussions were fruitful. They shared information about a specific type of burglary referred to as the South American theft groups, known for residential burglaries. Key observations included targeting of second-floor bedroom windows and doors, often left unlocked. The burglars often work in groups, with one car at the residence and another as a lookout. Lieutenant Lapkin emphasized the importance of community vigilance and reporting suspicious activities.

Wi-Fi Jammers were identified as a new tool used by burglars to disable wireless alarm systems. A recent arrest in an LAPD area confirmed the use of such jammers in residential burglaries.

Another topic discussed was the use of cameras and other surveillance tools by the sheriffs and their utility in solving crimes, not just in West Hollywood but in the surrounding areas too. The sheriffs have a strong partnership with Beverly Hills, and their shared resources greatly assist in crime detection and prevention.

Regarding business burglaries, it was mentioned that Barney’s Beanery and La Boheme had their safes stolen. These incidents are part of a larger trend of crime syndicates targeting businesses. While specific details about these cases couldn’t be disclosed due to ongoing investigations, the similarity to a nationwide pattern of such crimes was noted.

In response to inquiries about advice for businesses to improve security, the commission highlighted their ongoing efforts to support local enterprises. Regular walkthroughs with businesses, residences, and apartment buildings are conducted to provide general advice on safety measures. While emphasizing that they cannot dictate business operations, the commission assured that they are available to offer guidance and can coordinate with the daytime cops team for more targeted support.

A key point of discussion was the year-to-year crime statistics. Overall, crime in West Hollywood was reported to have decreased by around 6% compared to the previous year, which had experienced significantly high crime rates. However, despite this decline, the perception of crime remains high among residents, attributed to the nature of the crimes being committed. Street robberies and burglaries, particularly concerning in nature, have replaced previously predominant crimes like cell phone thefts, which have seen a reduction due to targeted efforts by law enforcement.

The commission stressed the importance of public awareness and self-protection. They urged residents and business owners to be vigilant, especially regarding vehicle burglaries, which have been notably prevalent. Simple measures, such as not leaving valuables in vehicles, were recommended. To combat these trends, special operations focusing on areas with increased crime rates are routinely conducted, including holiday crime suppression units that particularly focus on residential and retail burglaries.

Following this, the discussion shifted to the impact of minor traffic stops on minority individuals. A commissioner presented an alternative perspective, highlighting that these stops disproportionately affect minority communities. This assertion was supported by investigations into the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Reports from the Citizens Oversight Commission and the County Inspector General corroborated this, showing that in certain areas, traffic stops by the Sheriff’s Department were significantly higher among minority populations compared to their proportion in the overall population. The complexity of the issue was acknowledged, with an understanding that there is no straightforward solution.

This portion of the discussion was particularly important as it shed light on the broader implications of routine law enforcement practices and their impact on different communities. The commission recognized the need to balance effective policing with fairness and equity, acknowledging the challenges in achieving this balance.

Commissioner Joy Freiburg asked about the highest citation that could be given for scooter and e-bike infractions, the response clarified that all citations essentially pertain to infractions against the vehicle code. The penalty level varies based on what the court system decides. For instance, a speeding ticket has a base violation fee, and the fine increases with every 10 miles per hour over the speed limit. However, it was noted that the sheriff’s department does not keep tabs on the dollar value of penalties as it is determined by the court.

This part of the discussion highlighted the process and criteria for imposing penalties on traffic-related infractions. While specific amounts were not discussed, the emphasis was on the structured approach where the severity of the violation (such as the extent of speeding) directly influences the penalty imposed. This system ensures that penalties are proportional to the nature and severity of the infraction, aligning with broader traffic law enforcement and public safety objectives.

 

 

 

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Mikie Friedman
Mikie Friedman
1 month ago

I watched last night’s PSC meeting. And what is left out in your article is that I believe commissioner Freiberg asked the question about citations for scooters, after the sheriff had reported a traffic accident on Fairfax and Fountain that involved a scooter, whose driver, the sheriff said was mostly at fault for the accident. I believe she was asking whether that scooter rider was cited. The sheriff’s response was very vague, talking about traffic citation fines in regard to the speed they were traveling. He also talked about citations being either mailed or given at the scene of the… Read more »

Gimmeabreak
Gimmeabreak
1 month ago

My former tax preparer, who is Jewish and very white, was stopped in WeHo for a minor traffic violation. In the course of running his driver’s license it was found that there was a warrant for his arrest for identity theft and fraud. I am one of several of his victims. He had evaded arrest until this traffic stop.
I am also very white and have been stopped for a minor traffic violation and have had to sit there while the officer runs my I.D., so let’s not get carried away with thinking this happens only to minorities.

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