GUEST COMMENTARY - On May 25th, I wrote an article called ”LAPD NE Division Sets Community Policing Back 20 Years”.
The substance of the article was:
“A Radio shop business located on York Blvd organized and advertised the May 20th Low Rider Car show event via social media. The organizers did not hand out flyers to local residents who reside on the North and South side of York Blvd, nor did they secure a permit for the event.
LAPD Northeast Division became aware of the event and then then preceded with a severe Knee Jerk Reaction.”
It evidently hasn’t gotten better for the LAPD
On June 28, 2023 the Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council Public Safety Committee held a meeting at the Highland Park Recreation Center at 6:30 pm.
The intent of this meeting was to discuss various issues surrounding the immediate Highland Park community, it's residents, stakeholders and business owners’ concerns over various public safety issues including traffic issues and major concerns over the May 20, 2023 Low Rider Car show.
In attendance were two members of the Los Angeles Police Northeast Division Community Relations unit, Senior Lead officers Reyes and Vargas.
Both officers are to be commended for staying and participating in conversation for more than two hours and for being very candid during their conversations with those in attendance. Law enforcement officers tend to stand towards the back during these meetings, but Reyes and Vargas were at ease and sat among those in attendance.
Highland Park is not immune to the increase of drivers violating the rules of the roads such as excessive speed, running posted stop signs and failure to yield to cross traffic.
As a result some motions by the Board of the Historic Highland Park Neighborhood council recommended that a Turnabout be constructed at the intersection of Avenue 56 and Meridian Street, and that Speed Bumps be placed on the public street in front of Yorkdale School.
The conversation then proceeded to the major concerns of the May 20th Low Rider Car show.
Both of the Senior Lead officers stated that they, their Sergeant and their Community Relations Unit were all in attendance at the Low Rider Car show and they positioned themselves on Avenue 53 and York Blvd. They were there to observe those in attendance in front and around the immediate area of the Super A market.
The officers noted that they did not interact with community residents or those individuals who came from outside our community to see the event, or with the owners of the Low Rider Vehicles.
They stated that there were individuals displaying the Mongols gang dress attire, as well as many individuals consuming alcohol in public from open containers. This is a violation of the Los Angeles City Municipal code under the Business and Professional code 41.27 Drinking an Alcoholic Beverage In Public.
All of us were taken back when both officers stated that one was cited for consumption of alcohol in public. No one was arrested at this event. As police officers on active duty, is this not a violation of their responsibilities for failure to issue citations for violations of the city municipal code.
Both the City of Los Angeles and the County of Los Angeles have seen a major increase in traffic fatalities; Auto vs Pedestrians, Auto vs Auto, Wrong way Drivers and many other traffic violations related to consumption of alcohol, illegal drugs and excessive speed. Again, one needs to ask why were individuals allowed to consume alcohol in public without being cited?
Captain Chris Waters did not attend our meeting nor did she send any type of response that she would not attend.
One of our long time very active community members and lifelong Highland Park resident did have a telephone conversation with Captain Waters prior to the business owners meeting on May 24th, Captain Waters concurred that there should be a community Town Hall Meeting and that she would work on setting up a date and time for this special event. E-mails were then sent out after May 24, 2023 to many LAPD Command staff members including Captain Chris Waters. The Email stated:
Concerned community residents, business owners and stakeholders would like to have an open Town Hall Meeting to discuss all of our concerns surrounding the pros and cons of the Low Rider Car Show event.
More than two special reminder e-mails were additionally sent out but Captain Waters failed to set up a date for the promised Town Hall meeting.
It was only within the last couple of days that Captain Waters set up a date, time and location for the Town Hall Meeting. (see FLYER)
Note that this location is located outside of the Los Angeles City Council District of CD 14. Note the time of the event . Many of our local businesses located on York Blvd close at 6 pm and our stakeholders would be unable to drive to the location at the time noted on the flyer. To top off insult to injury note the names at the bottom of the flyer. Captain 111 Chris Waters and Captain 1 Gary Waters. The correct name for the Captain 1 is Gary Walters and not Gary Waters.
The fact that our community residents requested this Town Hall meeting event, one needs to ask why didn't Captain Waters contact the initial contact person prior to setting up the date, time and location of this very important event?
It is unheard of for a meeting to address issues which took place in one Los Angeles City Council District to be held in yet another Los Angeles City Council geographical district.
One can only surmise that this was done deliberately to discourage Highland Park Community Members, Stakeholders and Business owners from attending. This way, Captain Waters can show the LAPD command staff that she did, at the last moment, prior to her upcoming retirement set up a community Town Hall meeting.
I would be amiss if I failed to mention that prior to our community public safety committee meeting on June 28th, 2023, I walked up and down York Blvd, and made contacts with many business owners. I learned first-hand that a number of businesses had been victims of crime to include daytime robberies, burglaries and late-night burglaries. One business owner told me that he made face to face contact with Captain Waters and asked her for additional nighttime police patrols. The business owner stated that Capt. Waters response was “you know police officers have to sleep at night”.
I observed that a number of businesses did not have cameras. I advised them to purchase cameras for their businesses. Also, a couple of businesses acknowledged that they had failed to contact the police and file a formal police report. One business employee stated that his boss feared that filing a formal police report would cause his insurance company to raise his insurance rates. I also explained to them that filing a formal police report would show which areas needed extra patrol as a result of the increase in crime rate in their areas.
Finally, I noted that Northeast Senior Lead officers are not making monthly contact with the various business owners or are taking the time to walk the beat of the business communities. Isn't this part of their assigned duties as a Senior Lead officer?
A formal request for an LAPD Internal Affairs Investigation has been requested.
(Caroline Aguirre is a retired 24-year State of California law enforcement officer, LAPD family member, community activist and Neighborhood Watch captain. Aguirre is a CityWatch contributor.)