New DTLA group asks LAPD to step up foot patrols

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Downtown Los Angeles residents could soon see increased foot patrols by the Los Angeles Police Department.

According to members of DTLA Strong, DTLA’s newest community group, LAPD deployments primarily rely on vehicle patrols. While effective in less dense neighborhoods, motorized patrols don’t provide enough crime deterrence in the “pedestrian-centric” downtown area, former Baldwin Park Mayor Pro Tem and DTLA Strong founder Anthony Bejarano said.

DTLA Strong has sponsored a petition, currently with more than 1,000 signatures as of Wednesday, to bring more foot patrols to DTLA.

Bejarano, along with former congressional candidate Sara Hernandez and podcaster Gerren Kelsaw, formed DTLA Strong to give residents an avenue to voice their concerns to city leaders.

Bejarano, who now lives in downtown Los Angeles, said few issues are as important to downtown residents as local crime. Recent high-profile crimes and an increase in Skid Row homelessness has led to many residents believing downtown crime has increased.

“I don’t know if there’s necessarily more crime happening, as opposed to more people living there, so there’s more opportunity to commit crime,” Bejarano said. “But there hasn’t been a lot of interaction that’s positive. In fact, some of it has been quite dangerous.”

Bejarano pointed to January’s beating of an 85-year-old Korean woman, and the deaths of three homeless men in September, as crimes that had set residents on edge.

However, it’s not just crime prevention Bejarano is worried about. Increased foot patrols could also foster a sense of community. With regular beat officers being seen in the streets every day and getting to know residents and regulars, Bejarano said fears of racial profiling could be assuaged, while real crime addressed.

Police departments around the country have already increased foot patrols to improve community relations, and studies conducted in 2005 by the Justice Department found that local residents are likely to support such efforts. However, Bejarano said he’s expecting significant pushback, but plans to stay the course for a safer DTLA.

“[Downtown Los Angeles] is not your typical type of community,” Bejarano said. “No one potential solution is gonna be a fix-all.”

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