For those that caught this post before I took it down, you might be wondering what the heck is going on. Well, I was strongly encouraged to take it down it because I could be construed as a “crusader” and trying to bring change to Venice could stir up the wrong pots. At the time my husband was out of town and being pregnant I didn’t want to take any undue risks. Since then I attended the Candlelight Memorial Service for Eun Y. Kang where many community members strongly advocated for forming Neighborhood Watches, and so I decided to post this again. I’m no crusader, I just want to ensure that the neighborhood I live in is safe for myself, my family and my neighbors. Both Assistant Commanding Office Andrew Smith of the LAPD South Bureau and Councilman Bill Rosendahl said that Neighborhood Watches should be your first line of defense in conjunction with the police. That answered my first question in the first paragraph of my original post.
Let’s try this again, shall we….
Is it time to consider the LAPD our backup plan as opposed to our first option for protection? With the budget cuts and considerably reduced force in neighborhoods like Venice, neighbors need to become more neighborly and look after each other. I’m not saying that citizens of Venice should work against the police, I’m saying that we need to strongly consider coming up with a new first line of defense in order to keep ourselves and our families safe.
Last night I came home to find a homeless man and his dog in my carport. It was dark and raining very hard, and I was alone. I called out of my car to the man bundled in his blanket to “please leave now.” He merely grunted. I thought about just parking my car and walking past him to my door because he was probably harmless and trying to keep dry. But then I thought about my unborn baby and thought about the horrific death of Eun Y. Kang just a few days before and I decided it wasn’t worth the risk. My landlord, husband and friends all advised me to call the police so I did. The dispatcher said the patrol car was on it’s way. I waited half an hour and called back and explained I was pregnant and scared to enter my home. The dispatcher said the patrol car was on it’s way. I called back after an hour and the dispatcher said the policemen had a higher priority call and didn’t know how long they would be but he was willing to stay on the phone with me while I went into my house. I hung up. I was tired and just wanted to go to bed, so I turned my high beams on the man and yelled again “please leave!” He finally did. Thankfully the incident ended friendly, but I am also very glad that I didn’t take any chances. Since I have told my story to some people, I have heard about cases that weren’t nearly as friendly. One woman told me about a time a homeless man in her carport was asked to leave and responded by “…smashing my garage door, threatening to burn down my house and torch it, swearing…”
I’m not targeting the homeless population in particular because there are also problems with drug trafficking, gangs, “hot prowls” and the list goes on. Just read the forums on Yo Venice! or the alerts on Voice of the Canals. I have a friend that literally packed up and left Venice for Santa Monica where they have their own police department because her and her family couldn’t take the drugs and violence that were happening outside her door.
I no longer go outside at night without an escort because I’ve heard of the increase in crime in Venice. Many women and families in Venice share this fear. I know many people say that’s just how Venice is. But does it need to be? Do we merely sit back and accept things how they are? I say NO!
When I was in San Francisco, I lived on Shotwell Street, known for prostitutes and drug trafficking. I joined the Shotwell Street Neighborhood Watch and we met regularly with the Mission Police Captain. Just before I left San Francisco the neighbors were creating committees to brainstorm different ways to prevent everything from bicycle theft to drug and alcohol abatement. Captain Tacchini himself said, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease” and was referring to citizens who get together and engage in regular conversation with the police and work to solve problems together.
The woman that had the unfortunate encounter with the homeless man said that her neighbors in Venice banded together and hired a security services company to patrol and offer armed response for a very minimal monthly payment per person. These armed responders come out to move homeless people sleeping on your property and other incidents that make you feel unsafe. The Venice Canals has this type of armed response too.
I would like to join a Neighborhood Watch program on my street in Venice and work with the LAPD to improve the safety in the area I live in.
Is there an organization that helps you to create neighborhood watches? Do I need to start one? I looked on the Venice Neighborhood Council website and didn’t see anything on this topic. Maybe I didn’t look hard enough. If you have some insight, please share in the comments. Since I originally posted this, I have done some research and found out that the LAPD has information on starting a Neighborhood Watch. You get some neighbors together and then talk to the LAPD to make it official and get them involved. Some great tips on preventing crime in your home and information on Neighborhood Watches can be found on the LAPD website.
My next step is to start recruiting my neighbors to start a Neighborhood Watch and go from there. Whether you live in Venice or not, I encourage you to join or start your own Neighborhood Watch.