Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

More than 100 Neighbors Attend Hancock Park Security Town Hall

More than 100 neighbors attend the Hancock Park Homeowners Association Security Town Hall on Monday evening. The meeting was recorded. (Click here to listen and enter this passcode rJ1x3%V@)

More than 100 neighbors from Hancock Park and other surrounding neighborhoods participated in an online town hall on security issues last night, organized by the Hancock Park Homeowners Association.

LAPD Captains Sonia Monico and Anthony Otera of Wilshire Division and Senior Lead Officer Dave Cordova offered residents more information on recent burglaries and robberies in the surrounding neighborhoods. Jerry Shaw and Terry Seagraves, founders of SSA, a private security company with two local patrols in the area, and Mike Ball of ADT Security offered advice and suggestions to residents on how to “harden the target,” the term used by law enforcement to make it harder for criminals to break into your home or car. Also joining the panel discussion were Jon Vein and Martin Beck, co-chairs of the Hancock Park Homeowners Association Security Committee, and association president, Cindy Chvatal-Keane, as well as other HPHOA board members.

Chvatal-Keane invited Captain Otero to lead off the discussion with a review of the recent crimes in the area over the past month.

“The preponderance of the victims in these crimes were not paying attention to their surroundings and unfortunately became victims of crime,” said Otero. “The majority of the victims said they didn’t see anyone around them. It’s alarming to see an extreme pick up in the  robberies in the area, and we do have additional resources being loaned to us from the Metropolitan Division,” Otero said.  “We are getting more people out there so they are more visible.”

Otero described his department’s efforts to coordinate with SSA, and said video footage of crimes greatly assists in their efforts to track down the criminals and apprehend them. He pointed to the cameras that can read license plates, now being installed by Melrose Action in the Melrose area, as an example of how residents can work together with businesses to “harden the target” and reduce their vulnerability to crime.

Otero’s more specific suggestions will sound familiar to anyone who has participated in these neighborhood forums in the past,  but he said they are effective tools that residents should consider implementing:

  1. Strategic lighting – light up your driveway; make sure your front doors are all lit at night.
  2. Keep porch lights on all night.
  3. Install cameras and position them so you get a frontal photo of anyone at your front door.
  4. Do not resist. No personal property is worth your life.
  5. Consider not wearing expensive jewelry that may attract attention.
  6. Know your neighbors and watch out for each other.
  7. Walk with a friend; there’s safety in numbers.
  8. Walk with your dog and be aware of your surroundings, avoid being on your phone.
  9. Report suspicious activity. If you see someone who doesn’t look like they belong, call SSA or one of the non-emergency numbers for LAPD: 1-877-ASK-LAPD or 1-877-275-5273.
  10. Secure your home – lock your doors; lock all your gates and exterior entry points.
  11. Secure garage doors and parked cars.
  12. Trim trees and shrubs to eliminate hiding places that attract cars and other potential offenders.
  13. Meet all your neighbors; participate in your neighborhood watch.
  14. Get to know your Senior Lead Officer(s).
  15. Make a plan for what you would do if there’s someone at your door or you are confronted by someone.
  16. Install motion sensor lights around your property that will turn on if someone approaches.
  17. Light up long driveways, so your neighbors and others can see your front door.
  18. Be aware if someone is following you. Go to a well lit area if you are walking or – if you are driving – drive to a police station.
  19. Sign up for a private security patrol, either SSA or ADT. The more residents who sign up, the more resources there will be in the neighborhood.

Captain Otero repeatedly stressed the importance of neighbors helping one another.

“Talk to your neighbors,” urged Otero. “Let them know if you are going out town so if they see someone at your home, they will know it’s not you…and you can do the same for them.”

Otero also said there is no indication that anyone is being particularly targeted, and no significant gang activity in the Wilshire Division. But he didn’t address the issue of the faster releases of criminals these days, which some people have cited as the reason for in the increase in crime.  Instead, Otero said his job is just to solve crimes. He also stressed that many of the current crimes are more opportunistic and potentially preventable if residents take more precautions. However, he also noted that criminals will see an opportunity and take some something, even a mom’s diaper bag in a recent incident in Hancock Park. Otero said he was really disheartened to see that even moms with babies could be a target.

Meanwhile, Terry Seagraves, founder of SSA, tried to put the recent crimes in perspective.

“A home invasion is a rare occurrence,” said Seagraves. “Criminals usually invade for a reason. However, burglars are random – they just drive down the street looking for an easy target.”

Seagraves said SSA operates two full-time cars between Highland Avenue and Wilton Place, from Melrose Avenue to Wilshire Blvd. The company also has a third car it deploys for “crime suppression,” based on information from LAPD. However, he added that just like LAPD, SSA is having trouble getting employees who want to do the work. “We try to be there to keep everyone safe, but we can’t be everywhere,” he said.

Finally, Mike Ball from ADT Security said that company has several seasoned ADT officers who have been with the company for more 30 years patrolling the area.

Throughout the meeting, panelists answered questions in the chat from residents, including one query about the long wait times when calling LAPD.  In that case, both captains urged residents to stay on the line and wait for the operator.

“Don’t hang up,” said Captain Monico. “If you hang up, you will go back to the end of the queue.”

“It’s also really important to call in with descriptive information that can help up identify someone.  Try to reminder the details of the car or their clothing, etc.” added Captain Otero. “We don’t like to see the long wait times and we encourage residents to use other numbers for non-emergencies.”

When asked about another recent issue – street racing – Otero said LAPD doesn’t have a lot of enforcement on street racing, adding that it’s very hard to stop but that it has decreased somewhat recently.  At the same time, though, he also urged residents to report anything they see.

In closing, Otero said he was amazed that more than 100 residents participated in the call, and invited everyone who lives in an adjacent community to consider having a similar meeting in their neighborhood, too.

“We are always here,” said Otero. “Thank you for having us…and call us.”

The meeting was recorded. (Click here to listen and enter this passcode: rJ1x3%V@)


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Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard is the publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.

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