DEEGAN On LA — “I’ve lived in the Valley and I understand it”, says CD4 candidate Ethan Weaver. He has also lived with and understands cops as a Los Angeles Deputy City Attorney neighborhood prosecutor in the City Attorney’s office, who has spent five years working out of the LAPD Hollywood station house.
At a time of calls to defund the police, and community unease about development projects in the Valley, Weaver is running against Silver Lake resident and incumbent Nithya Raman (CD4) in a newly redistricted CD4 that now straddles the hills—half city and half Valley.
Weaver has a foot in each leg of CD4 having lived in the Valley and working in Hollywood. Raman knows SFV only as a visitor.
His Valley lineage helps him understand the needs and fears of Valley residents. His down to earth and practical daily knowledge of how LAPD operates, is a polar opposite of the democratic socialist dream of downgrading cops and de-incarcerating criminals signed onto by his opponent.
Ethan Weaver shared his views of both topics—the Valley and the cops— with City Watch in an interview a few days ago. Vote by Mail ballots drop today; the Primary Election on March 5 is just four weeks away.
CW—What are your Valley roots and what you see as the fabric of the Valley?
EW— I understand the Valley, as a former Burbank and North Hollywood resident. Valley residents want someone that represents their needs and views. Job number one of a council member is to deliver services and solve problems for the community. To answer the phone and take action to support the constituents. I know from my neighborhood prosecutor work the past several years how important rapid response to the community is, how communications and outreach are key service tools for politicos.
CW—As an “honorary” Valley resident, how would you describe the valley’s “identity”?
EW—It’s full of communities that are second and third generation. Valley neighborhoods are very well connected with sense of community and the history of the valley. They are not just another city.
CW—Are there standout issues that concern those residents?
EW—Yes. The Valley has lot of issues around development. A big one is communities not being included in the decision-making process, especially when many projects are in early stages of development.
CW—What is the danger of this dis-connect in the planning process?
EW—We are sowing the seeds of a reactionary movement of people that don’t want being left out—saying let’s secede. [writer’s note:The Neighborhood Council program became part of the LA City Charter reform in 1999 when the Valley, feeling left out of the conversation, threatened to secede from the City.]
CW—Let’s turn to what many residents citywide call the number one issue of Public Safety. We are at a historical moment to decide what kind of Police Department, and new Chief, we need. What’s your take on LAPD?
EW—Right now we have a declining number of officers and small recruit classes. That’s a morale problem. The overarching job of LAPD is to protect residents from crime and deter crime from happening. We need officers to respond to 911 calls, but we do not have enough officers.
Fox example, there have been a record numbers of home burglaries in Encino because criminals know the slow response time because there are not enough officers. Commercial theft at night, the same.
Aspirational is good, but that goal must be preempted by triage working on immediate problems and preparing for major upcoming events like the World Cup (2026) and the Summer Olympics (2028).
CW—Those are examples of the public interface of LAPD. What about “inside” the LAPD?
EW— I worked in the Hollywood station for five years and saw a real morale problem. The leadership problem is that officers don’t know where they fit into society now, post George Floyd. Should they be engaging with homeless and mental health problems? Nobody has given officers the role they are to be. The LAPD is still being asked to answer calls they say they’ve been told mental health specialists will handle.
CW—How can a new Chief of Police deal with this?
EW—My concern is that we find someone able to turn the morale problem around and provide leadership to where officers are telling friends to come work here. A Chief that wants an increased focus on community safety relationships. More SLO’s (senior lead officers). That program works.
Building trust in communities should be a huge concern for the new Chief. I worked with officers that grew up in poor parts of town, people of color who wanted to be a good face in the community.
The new Chief can rebuild relationships in communities. He or she can change the narrative what kind of impact police can have with people. A Chief that focuses on these kinds of community relationships.
(Tim Deegan is a civic activist whose Deegan on LA weekly column about city planning, new urbanism, the environment, and the homeless appear in CityWatch. Tim can be reached at [email protected].)