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LAPD Calls on Community's Help in Addressing Violence

With violence surging on Monte Vista Street in Highland Park, the LAPD says it will take a combination of increased policing and community cooperation to restore peace.

The was packed with concerned community members on Thursday evening gathered to discuss solutions to a recent surge of gang-related violence in their neighborhood.

The community forum was hosted by the , and featured among its invited guests were Councilmember Ed Reyes and Los Angeles Police Department Northeast Capt. William Murphy.

Gang tensions led to more than a dozen shootings in Highland Park in July, one of which resulted in the death of in front of a Monte Vista Street apartment building.

On Thursday evening, Murphy told Patch that he was confident that the department could be successful in stemming the recent violence.

"We do have a track record of taking care of gang violence. Monte Vista is a problem right now, but it's nothing like Drew Street," Murphy said, referring to the notorious street in Glassell Park that was for a years a headquarters for a powerful Northeast LA gang. 

In 2008, as part of a Drug Enforcement Administration lead raid, more than 500 officers from various agencies marched on Drew Street. The raid resulted in the arrest of 26 gang members and the crippling of the local gang element. Since then, Murphy said Drew Street has undergone a revitalization. Property values are on the rise and the neighborhood is now home to a community garden.

Murhpy said a multi-agency raid of Drew Street proportions would likely not be needed to put an end to gang violence on Monte Vista Street. Instead, the LAPD would prefer to partner with the community instead of the DEA. 

"These meetings are great for police/community relations, when people come out and share their concerns and frustrations, because its an opportunity for me to say to them, 'You have to play your part too and help us out,'" Murphy said.  "Get on our Facebook page, get on our Twitter and give us information. Become part of a neighborhood watch. If we've got issues — like one gentleman who mentioned that we've got to break down barriers and build better trust — then we gotta address those issues."

Some community members were already taking action before Thursday's meeting. Ruben Del Portillo, a new member of the Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council, said he recently toured the neighborhood with staff from the Central City Action Committee, a graffiti abatement agency that serves Highland Park. Del Portillo told those in attendance on Thursday that he had already put together a group of ten volunteers who would be trained by Central City in graffiti removal so they could assist the under-funded, under-staffed agency.

"We all need to work together to make Highland Park a better, safer place," Del Portillo said.

Art Pulido, a Cypress Park resident, said one of the biggest challenges facing Northeast neighborhoods was a lack of job opportunities — especially for those just getting out of jail. He urged Councilmember Reyes to establish programs that could help reintegrate ex-convicts into the work force.

"The first thing they're going to do, if they're ex-felons, is look for the easiest way to get back on their feet. No. 1: drugs. No. 2: the homies — the gangs," Pulido said. "Open up the doors."

Pulido said that, while programs like Summer Night Lights were good for some children, they struggled to impact hard-to-reach teens who were already immersed in gang life.

"Summer Night Lights is good for little kids, but not the hard-to-reach youth," he said.

After the meeting concluded, HHPNC member Janet Dodson said that residents who attended the meeting needed to get more involved in the community if they wanted to affect any change in Highland Park.

"I think it is only with community action that we can ever expect better city services for Highland Park," she said. "When groups of people demand graffiti to be removed, for example, they will get it."

frank van neutra lautner August 03, 2012 at 05:58 PM
Blah, Blah, Blah... This script is a tired old grooved and rutted road and I find most of it to be patronizing and presumptuous. All this talk about a Neighborhood Watch and helping the LAPD do their job in gang war zone is recipe for innocent residents becoming targets. What I see as the main ills of Highland Park that stubbornly persist are the legacy of poor public policy and representation since the 1960s.
Gil August 03, 2012 at 06:21 PM
There is only so much the community and average citizen can do. Eventually they will become a major target themselves. Especially if they are a property owners or business owners. LAPD witness on several cases became victims themselves because of lack of protection. Search google Well, at least Captain Murphy finallly admitted that Highland Park as a violence problem. LAPD holds meeting almost once year telling residents how Highland park is safest it ever been. always after somebody gets hurt.
frank van neutra lautner August 03, 2012 at 06:42 PM
My own experiences have shown me that many (not all) LAPD officers (gang unit officers too) are total dingdongs when comes to using wise discretion to protect the identities of or a least the locations of where people who try to help live. LAPD's own past statements to the HP Patch have shown that that these HP or Dog Town clowns will shoot at passing witnesses who *allegedly have no gang ties. * I take LAPD media statements with a large grain of salt.
EandB August 03, 2012 at 09:52 PM
Agreed. The community policing the area itself is not the answer, it's just a way for more of us to become victims. It's way beyond that. Police need to come down hard, exactly like they did on Drew Street. Yes, it is as bad if not worse here in HP now. More than a dozen shootings in one month. Are you kidding, how is this any less volatile than Glassel Park in 2008? Bring the 500 officers, or 1,000 if that's what it takes.
El Cid August 04, 2012 at 02:46 AM
Did anyone see Channel 4 news on Wednesday, August 1 on the Miley Cyrus 911 phone call hoax? LAPD brought in X amount of officers and SWAT team! What will it take to get the same law enforcement response with the gang violence in HP?
Goth666 August 04, 2012 at 04:20 AM
It will never happen!! C.R.A.S.H doesn't do enough to prevent violence...I live in Highland Park, so believe me, I know and I'm aware on what's going on... Cops here are too busy harassing people walking by, or just patrol up and down the same street making themselves look pretty or my favorite, 4-6 patrol cars at the 7-11 on colorado and highland view, all just talking, laughing, zipping coffe in the middle of the night!! These cops focus more on little stupid things, they don't try to communicate or develop trust among it's residents, they're rude and complete assholes!! So it shouldn't be a surprise this new wave of violence is even happening right now!! The Division needs reform, I got nothing against gang members, I get along with everyone, and they never bugged me in any way, as the same for police officers, theyre just doing their job...but they need to step up their game if they plan to regain control of Highland Park..and they gotta do it soon!! If they can't handle the situation, why not bring in L.A county sheriffs Dept. To help out, after all, the sheriffs are always the ones to get the job done, wouldn't mind Sheriffs Dept taking over, just like they did in Compton a few years ago....
carol van beek August 04, 2012 at 05:55 AM
Well, it works both ways. The desk personnel at Northeast Division also need to be interested and take action when we do try to participate. When I called them about taggers in the act, they weren't even interested enough to take down a description of the clothes they were wearing.
socorro August 04, 2012 at 07:02 AM
11:35 pm on Friday, August 3, 2012 So it's 11:33 and a helicopter has been circling oneonta and jessica since 11:00pm (fri 8/3) what's going on? What/who are they looking for?
Monica August 04, 2012 at 10:30 AM
LAPD is suggesting to residents that they could contact them through facebook or twitter, therefore exposing their identities as they report crimes happening in their neighborhoods. Yeah, highly unlikely. The trust building needs to begin with the residents and the cops who sworn to protect them. Until then, the gangsters will continue their fights, and the innocent bystanders will continue to be victims of senseless crimes.
Mark A August 04, 2012 at 03:47 PM
The helicopter was searching for an armed man, possibly carrying a rifle, spotted at Jessica and Cleland. They also set up a perimeter and closed those streets for about 30 minutes. I was told they apprehended him.
nonoise August 04, 2012 at 05:44 PM
Community policing is a great idea and very helpful to police. The problem is when the community does call police for help or illegal activity then the police need to step in and be there. Right now there are not enough police officers on the street. Just ask Capt. Murphy and he will tell you that there are not enough street officers and he needs more. Did anyone at the meeting ask Councilmember Reyes about more police officers? What about the more police officers he promised by raising the trash fees? He lied. The money just went into the general fund. Blah, Blah, blah, is right. They just make promises that they do not keep and/or can not keep.
frank van neutra lautner August 04, 2012 at 08:53 PM
Miley Cyrus moves to HP?
frank van neutra lautner August 04, 2012 at 09:09 PM
Ha! You've found that out too, Carol? The front desk personnel at Northeast Division are awful. Those lumps perfectly fit the stereotype of public servants who could hardly careless. I anyone doesn't believe it then I suggest trying calling them yourself some time. (323) 344-5701 BTW, LAPD says they can't arrest taggers unless they literally catch the tagger in the act with the can in hand as evidence. Even if they catch the tagger at the location where the tagging was reported to 911 and then the called confirms to the officers on the scene that they have the right person they still let them go.
frank van neutra lautner August 04, 2012 at 09:13 PM
LAPD officers, even gang units officers, are often quite careless about protecting the identities and locales of reporting witnesses.
frank van neutra lautner August 04, 2012 at 09:24 PM
Good question. Reyes fails to get it done for this community time and time again. I've tried and tried and tried to work with his field deputies on neighborhood issues to no avail. My significant other went to the meeting while I was too busy to attend. She reported to me that it essentially what we predicted in advance. Will anyone step up to run an effective campaign against Reyes in the next ten years?
El Cid August 04, 2012 at 09:27 PM
Reyes is termed out for CD 1!
frank van neutra lautner August 04, 2012 at 09:36 PM
That's savvy point but it still leaves me wondering who he and the political king makers in this town are going to select as his CD 1 successor and what's he lining up to run for next?
frank van neutra lautner August 04, 2012 at 09:42 PM
P.S. In addition to the political apathy around here (and LA in general), with Reyes being terming out it's one more reason to be less than surprised that he hasn't hustled so much to better serve this district.
socorro August 05, 2012 at 02:58 PM
Good to have a place to share info about news, safety and issues in the community.
nonoise August 05, 2012 at 03:04 PM
Jesse Rosas is running for CD1. He is a community activist that cares about the community. He ran against Reyes last time around and lost by not that many votes.Let's not elect another career politian. http://www.rosas4citycouncil.org email: jesse@rosas4citycouncil.org Campaign #1345320
frank van neutra lautner August 05, 2012 at 03:46 PM
"Let's not elect another career politian." If I had a grand for every time I heard that one I could afford to run for office myself. Let's not kid ourselves. They're all career politicians. Some are better public servants than others.
nonoise August 05, 2012 at 05:28 PM
Agreed. But the voters are the ones that keep voting in the same horrible people. Then their staff run for office and then their staff gets voted in and they do the same terrible job. I guess there is no hope for voters to ever do the right thing and vote in someone that does what they need to do to improve the community and quality of life. Vote for someone that has worked in the community for free. Someone like Jesse Rosas, not another city hall employee.
Armez August 05, 2012 at 08:27 PM
A false kidnapping-hostage report?
frank van neutra lautner August 05, 2012 at 09:43 PM
"A false kidnapping-hostage report?" @ Fromaggia Let's not give Dog Town and HP gangs any ideas for new diversionary tactics. ;-/
Rosalita Jump August 06, 2012 at 07:53 PM
Jose Gardea is running for the CD 1 seat. He is certainly a career politician. He has been working in CD 1 for many years. He knows the streets well. I am always surprised at how many people he knows, which block on which streets have productive activists, not to mention who's been naughty or nice. Most importantly Gardea knows how get get the CIty to work for the community. Since when does simply not being a career politician mean you are not corrupt? Give me Gardea. I know he will pay attention to Highland Park.
El Cid August 06, 2012 at 09:45 PM
Are these the possible CD 1 election candidates? 1. Mr. Jesse Rosas - DOUBLE YIKES!! 2. Mr. Jose Gardea - career politician/Chief of Staff for Ed Reyes - I haven't seen much improvement south of York Blvd from Councilman Ed Reyes. Let's see in less than a two week period 9 gang related shootings south of York Blvd. I guess you are right - Mr. Gardea was paying attention - no heighten police response for over three weeks. Many of Councilman Reyes's staff on vacation when HP needed them the most. Prior to the last HHPNC meeting on 8/2/12 Mr. Daniel Andalon missed 2 HHPNC meetings. Yes, you are right - Mr. Gardea is paying attention to Highland Park. I hate to think what type of response Highland Park would receive if he wasn't paying favorable attention to Highland Park. 3. Assemblyman Gil Cedillo - author of two state bills on 710 Extension - TRIPLE YIKES!!!
Lastradioman August 07, 2012 at 06:26 PM
Some communities - I hope not ours - are mixed up about what they want from law enforcement. They snivel about the gangs, graffiti, street-racing, (etc) but then bitch when the police show up, citing heavy-handedness by the police. Well, which is it? If law enforcement sees a community (again, not ours I hope) in denial about its criminal inhabitants, a community that is anti-law enforcement, then law enforcement may not take that community very seriously... especially with cities all facing cutbacks in public safety. We need boots on the ground, not pie-in-the-sky social programs that fail after the politicians and cameras have gone.
El Cid August 07, 2012 at 06:40 PM
Heck yeah! -- I will gladly take the foot patrol, the horseback patrol, motorcycle cop, black and white squad car and SWAT to protect and serve! Stop with the photo-ops - bring law enforcement into our communities.
El Cid August 07, 2012 at 06:42 PM
Is that Field Rep. Daniel Andalon falling asleep while his boss Ed Reyes addresses the crowd? Wow!!! Totally a representation of CD 1 falling asleep in Highland Park.

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