Only two years ago, as police officers cracked down on members of the Avenues Gang in Cypress Park, few would have imagined that LAPD's Northeast Division would become a desired landing spot for aspiring captains.
However, as Capt. Brian Pratt introduced himself to members of the Northeast Division Community Policing Advisory Board (CPAB) last week, he said that's exactly what has happened.
"I always wondered about Northeast," Pratt said. "I always wanted to end up here, but my career took me other places and I had to go on other assignments. Somehow the stars aligned, though, and I got sent here."
Pratt said he has served as a member of the Los Angeles Police Department for more than two decades, with assignments in Watts and around the University of Southern California campus.
He also worked as a patrol officer in the Rampart Division, which includes the nearby neighborhood of Echo Park, during the early 1990s when the area saw a spike in violent crime.
Most recently, Pratt worked in LAPD's Use of Force Review Division, which is responsible for "providing administrative review and adjudication" for incidents in which the use of officer force results in injury or death.
Pratt said that most of his career, though, has been spent working the streets.
"I've had a variety of assignments and the majority of that experience has come in patrol and gang enforcement," he said.
Pratt will work alongside Capt. William Murphy and replace Captain Dave Lindsay, who was recently promoted to the rank of Captain I from his previous rank of Captain III.
During the recent CPAB meeting, Murphy credited Lindsay for overseeing the dramatic drop in Northeast's violent crime numbers over the last two years.
"I'm very glad for him," Murphy said. "He's been in Northeast for over two years, he's worked very hard and a lot of our success are due to him."
According to statistics provided by LAPD COMPSTAT Unit, violent crime is down 36.9 percent compared to this time last year.
According to COMPSTAT's numbers, Northeast has seen the largest decrease in violent crime of any division within LAPD. Additionally, property crime is down 19.1 percent, good for seventh in the department. Part 1 Crimes--which include homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft, and arson--went down by 21.9 percent, the second greatest decrease in the department.
"I'm actually really excited because Capt. Murphy and Capt. lindsay and all the people have worked so hard and done a really good job," Pratt said. Our crime numbers are so low. It's humbling because you think, 'what else can I do.'"
Despite Pratt's optimism about the area, there are still pressing issues, including the need to establish a cohesive gang enforcement unit to replace the one that was last winter. Gang violence at also remains a major concern, according to many community members.
Pratt said he is currently in the process of putting together a unit consisting of officers within the department with the most knowledge of the area's gang members.
"There are some gang issues and the department has made really remarkable strides, we've definitely reduced the level of violent crime in that area. It takes a team to do that," he said. "We're trying to build on the trust we've already created. When we have trust within the community, we can get more information."