June 2008 – Vandalism On Pacific – Getting The Rules Straight With The LAPD

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By Cristina Rojas

 In my letter to your May Issue, I described the vandals on Pacific who I saw taking a light fixture as “white youths”. I did so because it was so, but also, to counter comments I have heard supposing that vandals in general are probably either Gangs, or African-American, or Latino, or homeless, or “bums”…

 Since last month, there have been a few more acts of vandalism that I know of: another left side car mirror hanging just by a thread (really!), and a right side mirror smashed.

    In looking into the LAPD solutions to this particular problem our neighborhood is experiencing, I contacted various police officers referred through 911.

 A “lead” officer returned my phone message, and after hearing my story and my questions, proceeded to tell me in no uncertain terms that I needed to educate myself on the correct procedure and the correct numbers to phone….that the community had to get educated.

And no, he does not read The Beachhead!

So, mindful of his 4 suggestions, and in an effort to bring my involvement with this question to a close as I share it with you, here is the gist of it:

1.- Do not call 911 – Unless it is life threatening.

2.- Call 1 (877) 275 52 73 / 1 (877) ASK LAPD, the LAPD non emergency number. If you are not aware of this number, as I was not till then, you may go on the Web and find it.

    Personally, as I watched from my parked car as the vandals took down a neighbor’s front door light around past midnight I did not have access to the Web, only to my cell phone. And my lifelong hearsay limited education resulted in my calling 911.

    Now, mindful of the suggestion, I have phoned 1 (877) ASK LAPD.

I was informed that this is the main police car dispatch number, and that possibly there are more urgent requests which might take priority…hence my 45mn wait the night I reported the vandalism.

    In checking this number again tonight for this letter, there was more education: 

–call 911 if you see a crime in progress,

–call 1 (877) ASK LAPD if the perpetrators are leaving or have left the scene.

3.- If you do not know the 1(877) ASK LAPD number, call 411 to get that right number in case of vandalism. I did tell the “lead” Officer that 411 will just give you 911. He disagreed. I tried his suggestion…a couple of times. The surprised, slightly amazed answer came back each time: 911

    When I suggested that there might be another number, the operators got really flustered…until I assured them that I was just checking for a story.

 4.- Unless you get a slip, your report is not filed. The two officers who showed up 45mn after the vandalism of one of my neighbor’s door lamp, long after the vandals had weaved their way towards Venice Blvd, did see the hanging exposed wires, and listened to my story, and the 911 officer had also listened to my story twice.

But, without a written report resulting in a slip, it is as if it had never been reported.    

If only there had been such lack of “dynamism” in the LAPD/Feds/ATF February 19 Operation Oakwood.

 

Back in the late 1970s, I lived in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago. We started hearing and reading about neighborhoods “suddenly” becoming increasingly dangerous: gangs, drugs, violence…and Chicago’s Finest to the rescue. 

Then there was a rash of “inexplicable” fires, and families shivering out in the street watching their homes burn to the ground.    

And then there was “gentrification,” “urban renewal,” or as we used to call it, “urban removal,” of the people that is…scattered like leaves…

I think I may be having a Deja Vu all over again.   H

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