On April 14, 2015, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti delivered his 2nd State of the City Address promising a back to basics agenda – “making Los Angeles a safer, cleaner, and greener city.” On Wednesday, July 29th, Garcetti and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck visited Leimert Park with the intent of assuring business owners and residents that his promise of a safer LA not only included the Leimert Park/Crenshaw area, but that promise remains one of his top priorities.
Leimert Park known for its rich historical and contemporary African American culture is just one of the community benefactors of foot patrols (also called foot beats) where LAPD officers will not only patrol neighborhoods on foot, but more importantly interact with residents and business owners during those patrols. The foot beats initiative is the Mayor’s attempt to build stronger relationships between law enforcement and community residents/business owners. And it could not come at a better time.
During the past week, the neighborhoods of Leimert Park/Crenshaw were buzzing with rumors that a local gang also made a promise to Los Angeles – a promise of 100 days of violence that would target innocent residents. Most residents and business owners had seen or heard about the hastags #100days100nights or #PrayforLA. Understandably residents have cautiously gone about their day-to-day business unsure if the Mayor’s promise of safer neighborhoods really included the Leimert Park and Crenshaw area. According to Garcetti, it does. “I wanted to come to Leimert Park and show my support for the foot patrol initiative and encourage business owners and residents to give us feedback on what works here and what doesn’t,” Garcetti said.
On its face, his plan seems simple and one that he’s been a proponent of since his days as a city councilman. “I believe that more cops make LA safer and if crime is down the local economy can grow. An increased growth means more revenue for city services, which in turn allows us to improve our neighborhoods.”
According to the Mayor’s office, “foot patrols allow officers to become familiar with local residents while working to ensure the safety of neighborhoods.” Under the current plan, LAPD officers will patrol the Leimert Park/Crenshaw area on foot from from Wednesday through Sunday.
While most residents were appreciative of the presence of the Mayor and Chief Beck, their presence had many asking if this foot patrol program will really facilitate an understanding of what its like to live and work in the Crenshaw area so that meaningful relationships can be built beyond the next election cycle.
In speaking with members of the community as he walked about – Garcetti emphasized his continued commitment to community policing citing the expansion of programs for youth in underserved communities. For most of those business owners and residents in attendance, Garcetti’s promise of additional training for officers on the use of non-lethal force and tactics to de-escalate situations was music to their ears.
When asked how this newspaper could help facilitate the building of trust between the community and LAPD, Garcetti heralded the Sentinel for its voice and presence in the community. “The Sentinel has always been a voice of and for the people. Its presence in the community and on our main street here is absolutely critical. It [the Sentinel] is also not unafraid to tell the good stories and to tell the bad news. I believe that keeps people honest and keeps them focused. The Sentinel has always been about solutions whether it’s helping to do things like hosting the Taste of Soul in the community. The Sentinel is LA and these foot beats came out of direct conversations that I had with Danny Bakewell and passed on to the Chief. Let’s be proactive and while the nation is wondering whether the police and community can trust each other, let’s show the nation how to do it right. So this [initiative] has ripple effects not just for Los Angeles but for the entire nation,” Garcetti said.
And as one young resident said to the Sentinel as the Mayor and Chief Beck departed, “it’s important to me that I can believe what he just said. You remember that Public Enemy song Don’t Believe the Hype? Well I want to believe him…I want to believe the hype.”
For more information on foot patrols in Los Angeles visit www.lamayor.org