Crime prevention in the Melrose District is making headway with more deployments by the Los Angeles Police Department and a plan to install cameras on private property.
On Sept. 15, the Los Angeles City Council approved a motion by Councilman Paul Koretz, 5th District, to provide $30,000 to cover overtime costs for police personnel that have been deployed to the Melrose District for crime suppression. The allocation was part of $80,000 in total that will be provided to the four police divisions in the 5th District. Koretz previously used discretionary funds from his office for police officer overtime in the area last spring and plans to seek more funds in the future as necessary.
“I support any ideas that can help improve safety on Melrose,” Koretz said. “The LAPD is stretched thin and is providing enormous amounts of extra resources. We are literally doing everything we can think of to make the Melrose area safer.”
Capt. Sonia Monico, commanding officer of the LAPD’s Wilshire Division, said the department has used a comprehensive strategy to address crime in the area and has maintained a high-profile police presence that includes foot, bike and vehicle patrols, undercover operations and deployments of detectives and reserve officers. Monico said the extra deployments will continue indefinitely. It has not yet been specifically decided which units will use the additional $30,000 from the city, but it will go toward crime prevention in the Melrose District, she added.
“We’ve had people out there walking the streets, engaging with people,” Monico said. “We are talking to business owners, residents, people visiting the area and shopping, and tourists. Our goal is to deter crime and the fear of crime, and also engage the community. We are building collaborations, building partnerships and fostering trust with the Melrose community. [The extra money from the city] is going to be very helpful to us because we can add even more resources to the area.”
Monico said the department also supports an initiative proposed by the Melrose Action Neighborhood Watch to install cameras on private property that could be used to monitor the neighborhood for criminal activity. She stressed that the LAPD cannot advocate for specific types of cameras or companies, but said in general, cameras provide an extra tool for addressing crime.
“The cameras can provide us with information,” Monico said. “We don’t endorse anything, but the community feels like it would like to try some type of cameras. Any kind of security system or camera system is always helpful to solve crimes.”
The proposal by Melrose Action Neighborhood Watch calls for 20 cameras with license plate reading capabilities to be installed, and footage to be shared with the LAPD. The cameras will cost approximately $37,000, said Peter Nichols, co-founder of Melrose Action Neighborhood Watch.
Nichols started a GoFundMe account to raise money for the cameras, and approximately $27,000 has been generated so far. Koretz committed $10,000 to purchase the cameras, and the Melrose Action Neighborhood Watch received a $10,000 donation from Raya’s Paradise, a boutique residential care community for seniors with locations in the Melrose District and West Hollywood.
“It’s gotten to the point where people don’t feel safe. It never used to be like that,” Raya’s Paradise CEO Moti Gamburd said. “A neighbor came to me and told me about the cameras, and I said, ‘I’ll give them $10,000. Let’s do anything we can to improve the community and keep people safe.’ I thought it would be good for the community, good for me and good for my neighbors.”
Koretz also committed to helping the Melrose Action Neighborhood Watch get the camera project implemented once all the money is raised.
“Our office is happy to kick in $10,000,” Koretz added. “The hardest part with the city is once we make a commitment, you have to go through the city bureaucracy, so we will be on top of that.”
Nichols said he had not heard about any serious crimes occurring in the area during the past week, which Monico confirmed, and he is cautiously optimistic that recent police deployments are making a difference. He added that deployments must be sustained to keep the Melrose District safe.
“They want to be engaged with the community and get businesses more involved so they are not an easy target. They are providing more officers and more assets to the community,” Nichols said. “I think it’s an encouraging sign. Whatever they have been doing … has had an impact on crime suppression, so far.”
BY EDWIN FOLVEN / SEPTEMBER 29, 2021