Sheriffs talk Pride protests, mail theft and bike patrols

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Highlights from the WeHo Sheriff Station’s presentation to the Public Safety Commission on Monday, May 13, 2024:

In April, the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Department reported a total of 1,610 service calls, with 88 categorized as emergency responses. Arrests included 29 felony and 78 misdemeanor cases. In terms of crime distribution, there were 183 part one crimes, with the highest percentage (56% or 103 incidents) occurring in the western district, 21% (39 incidents) in the city center, and 23% (41 incidents) in the eastern district. Theft, particularly grand theft, petty theft, and vehicle burglaries, dominated these incidents. A notable issue in the rainbow district was pickpocketing, leading to increased collaboration with local bars, clubs, and entertainment venues to heighten awareness and prevention, especially in preparation for the upcoming Pride events.

During the same period, the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) team deputies assisted narcotics investigators in two significant operations. These operations resulted in the arrests of two individuals involved in distributing narcotics within and around West Hollywood. These arrests also led to the seizure of a substantial quantity of narcotics and a stolen firearm.

PROTESTS PREP

The Sheriff’s Department is actively preparing for the WeHo Pride event, coordinating extensively with law enforcement partners, the Emergency Operations Bureau, city public safety staff, Block by Block and the Fire Department. This preparation includes planning for potential protests, with considerations given to legal restrictions on the use of less lethal weapons like rubber bullets, as outlined by Assembly Bill 48 passed in 2021. Assembly Bill 48 restricts law enforcement from using kinetic energy projectiles, like rubber bullets, and chemical agents, such as tear gas, during protests. These measures are limited to situations where no alternatives exist and are necessary to defend against threats to life or serious bodily injury.

JONES CAFE FIRE

A reported structure fire at Jones Cafe was actually an arson attack on an awning of the building, resulted in less than $2,000 in damages. The Sheriff’s Department’s arson and explosives detail is actively investigating the case and searching for the suspect involved.

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VEHICLE SHORTAGE

A shortage of patrol vehicles was attributed to delays from vehicle manufacturers, not a lack of initiative from the department. An update indicated that new vehicles might soon be acquired, although the entire Sheriff’s department must share these resources cautiously to avoid potential losses from vehicle damage.

BIKE PATROLS

Concerns were also raised about a backlog in training necessary for deputies to conduct bicycle patrols. The department explained that the delay is due to a lack of available instructors rather than a lack of resources. Currently, the training can only be provided by a specific instructor through the Advanced Officer Training Bureau, and West Hollywood is on a waiting list. Despite having the bicycles and deputies eager for the training, the scarcity of training personnel has stymied progress.

Further discussion revealed that there are already some deputies trained for bicycle patrols, with about six currently qualified and four new electric bicycles available for their use. The department expressed a desire to increase this number once more training can be conducted.

The discussion touched on preparations for the upcoming Pride events, with plans to utilize bicycle patrols during daytime hours to navigate the street festival. However, the use of bicycles at night would be impractical due to large crowds. 

MAIL THEFT

Mail thefts are often conducted with a passkey that allows unrestricted access to apartment building mailboxes. This key, intended for postal workers to facilitate mail delivery, had been misappropriated, leading to multiple thefts. The department acknowledged the severity of the problem, not just in West Hollywood but across the greater Los Angeles area, and stressed the need for better security measures at residential properties to prevent such breaches.

Challenges arise in effectively addressing mail theft incidents due to the need for specific details from victims. Law enforcement requires information on exactly whose mail was stolen and what items were taken to file accurate reports. Building managers often report thefts generally, but more detailed victim statements are necessary for thorough documentation and investigation.

The correct procedure in such instances is for residents or building managers to contact the postal inspector to initiate a rekeying of the affected mailboxes. Although this process can be slow and costly, the responsibility for rekeying lies with the post office, not the building owners.

In efforts to combat these thefts, there is also an emphasis on preventive measures such as the USPS’s Informed Delivery service. This service notifies residents via email about the mail they are expected to receive, providing digital previews of incoming letters and packages. This system can be particularly helpful in establishing what was supposed to arrive in case of theft, thereby aiding in crime reporting and investigation.

An incident involving the direct robbery of a mail carrier was mentioned, highlighting that such cases are handled by the U.S. Postal Service Inspection, though the sheriff’s department would respond initially. The discussion revealed the limitations of local law enforcement in dealing with mail theft, emphasizing that it is primarily a federal issue managed by postal authorities.

Inquiries about the possibility of publicizing images of suspects were addressed. It was clarified that legal constraints prevent the department from posting images unless the individuals are designated as persons of interest by detectives. This process is regulated to ensure it’s used only when necessary to aid in an ongoing investigation.

NEW BIKE LAW

The WeHo Bicycle Coalition initiated discussion during public comment of a new traffic law that mandates vehicles to completely change lanes when passing bicyclists on narrow streets. This law applies to several arterial roads in West Hollywood including Santa Monica Boulevard and Fountain Avenue, where signs have been placed indicating that bikes may take the full lane due to the narrowness of these lanes. The coalition expressed concern that not all motorists are adhering to this law, suggesting that increased awareness and enforcement could enhance safety for bicyclists.

 

 

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WeHo Mary!
WeHo Mary!
10 days ago

Joy seemed a little drunk during this meeting, and then kind of sobered up after a while. She must be having a few pre-meeting drinks.

David Reid
David Reid
10 days ago

When will the Sheriff buy electric motorcycles, faster than gas and nearly silent, as the response vehicle fir West Hollywood emergencies? A motorcycle can zip through traffic and alleys when response time is crucial. Not gas, quiet electric cycles. 21st century after all.

Benjamin Story
Benjamin Story
9 days ago
Reply to  David Reid

This idea was presented to Kristen Cook before she left the city. The benefits of paramedics using motorcycles to get to where they are needed really quickly was explained. Many european cities utilize this approach.

Cy Husain 🌹
6 days ago
Reply to  Benjamin Story

Yes I have an electric cycle🛵 and, I’m able to get around the automobile traffic quite well❗

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