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Less Than Two Months After Councilmember Cedillo Increased LAPD Foot Patrol to Curb Crime, Three People Have Been Fatally Shot in Highland Park

1:11 PM PST on February 14, 2020

    [dropcap size=big]A[/dropcap] little over a month after Councilmember Gil Cedillo introduced a new plan to bring more uniformed LAPD officers to Highland Park, two people were shot and killed in less than 24 hours. This is the third shooting incident in Highland Park since Cedillo introduced the plan.

    Cedillo championed the new program last month saying, "I am happy to ensure the safety of my constituents in Highland Park with the new foot beat patrol on North Figueroa corridor that I am underwriting.”

    Cedillo dedicated an estimated $500,000 for the program over the next two years to bring two officers working 8-hour shifts to foot patrol the area on the weekends, despite the fact that LAPD crime statistics showed that there hadn’t been an uptick in crimes recently. Last year Cedillo pushed for 11 million dollars in funding to hire 18 more foot patrol officers. Critics of this police presence allege this is to appease the new homeowners and residents of Highland Park, an area in Los Angeles where the average cost of a home in 2020 is $775,000.  

    On February 12, 2020, at around 7:53 AM, a man was fatally shot in Herman Park. Less than 12 hours earlier at around 4:56 PM, 3 young suspects got into a physical altercation a quarter-mile away from Councilmember Cedillo’s office on Figueroa Street, near Avenue 56 and Ash Street. Ultimately one of the suspects was shot and killed. The LAPD told L.A. Taco that they believe the second shooting was gang-related

    No connection has been made between the two shootings at this time according to the LAPD media relations department and the department has not announced that any suspects have been identified or arrested in either of these incidents.

    In a statement to L.A. Taco, Councilmember Cedillo called the murders, “Alarming and unfortunate.” The Councilmember added, "Public Safety is a priority to me and the residents and businesses in Los Angeles.” Cedillo mentioned that bringing back footbeats was requested by businesses and residents alike. “Its (sic) important to be proactive not only reactive to reduce crime.” 

    Cedillo isn’t backing away from introducing more cops to the area. He told L.A. Taco that in addition to the continuation of Senior Lead Officer Footbeats, the LAPD will deploy “community relations officers and school cars” as well as Northeast Division bike patrol and gang intervention agencies in Highland Park.

    The foot patrol program in Highland Park is the latest example of city officials and the LAPD using “broken windows” policing tactics to allegedly curb crime. The broken windows theory suggests that enforcing petty infractions like vandalism, fare evasion, or public drinking, creates an atmosphere of orderliness that prevents more serious crimes.

    Today broken windows policing is associated with controversial law enforcement practices like stop-and-frisk, a tactic that overwhelmingly targeted people of color in New York City. In 2013, a federal court found that the practice was unconstitutional.

    The broken windows theory was first introduced to the public in a 1982 article published in The Atlantic. The story describes how in the 1970s the Newark Police Department in New Jersey established a "Safe and Clean Neighborhoods Program," designed to improve the quality of life for over 25 cities by taking police officers out of their patrol cars and placing them on the streets. Before that, foot patrol was viewed almost as a punishment because of the unfavorable conditions associated with walking and being on the streets.

    Less than five years after the program debuted though, the Police Foundation in Washington DC published a report that found that the increase in foot patrols had not reduced crime rates.

    In Los Angeles, we’ve seen this tactic been applied and fail numerous times.

    In the most recent example, LAPD increased the number of Metropolitan Division officers patrolling South Los Angeles. But after years of backlash from organizers and community members, the LAPD eventually cut back on pulling over random drivers in South L.A. after an L.A. Times investigation found that the black drivers comprised of 65 percent of stops or twice their share of the population.

    While the past has shown that these measures create more problems and can be unconstitutional, Cedillo is steadfast in keeping and potentially increasing police presence in the street where his office is located.

    In 2017 the LAPD received a contract to police buses and trains in Los Angeles. But in 2016, before the LAPD was awarded the multi-million dollar contract, a lawsuit alleged that while black metro riders account for less than 20 percent of rail riders, they accounted for nearly 50 percent of Metro citations and nearly 60 percent of LASD arrests each year. Advocates feared that the increased LAPD presence would only exacerbate these statistics.

    And in 2015 the city increased foot patrols in Boyle Heights, Lincoln Heights and El Sereno. But in July of 2016, after increasing foot patrols in Boyle Heights, LAPD officer Eden Medina shot and killed 36-year-old Omar Gonzalez after he was stopped for a traffic violation. Medina was not found liable for the murder and in the days after the shooting remained on foot patrol. 12 days later, Medina shot and killed 14-year-old Jesse Romero also in Boyle Heights after Romero was caught doing graffiti. 

    Crime is down in Highland Park but we still need foot patrol to protect Gentrifiers from the latinos that havent been kicked out, GTFOH with this nonsense RECALL @cmgilcedillo @ccedLA @LATenantsUnion @TheNewYorkBlvd https://t.co/rH4UalKDqB

    — Highlandpark NELA (@HighlandparkN) January 4, 2020

    Councilmember Cedillo said that his office is measuring the success of footbeats based on “crime reduction, community relations contacts, and public education.” Cedillo isn’t backing away from introducing more cops to the area. He told L.A. Taco that in addition to the continuation of Senior Lead Officer Footbeats, the LAPD will deploy “community relations officers and school cars” as well as Northeast Division bike patrol and gang intervention agencies in Highland Park.

    While foot patrols rarely lead to diminished crime stats, they do sometimes promote increased morale between some community members and law enforcement. For some people, building relationships with the police creates a false sense of safety. This tactic is called “Security Theater.” But to others, they feel that their community is being targeted and that the police are trying to intimidate them. In Highland Park, long-term residents are drawing a correlation between the rapid gentrification seen across East L.A. and these recent footbeats. While the past has shown that these measures create more problems and can be unconstitutional, Cedillo is steadfast in keeping and potentially increasing police presence in the street where his office is located.

    The Councilmember concluded by saying, “I am committed to public safety and if I see LAPD and our City gang intervention agencies need more resources I will make sure they have what's needed to keep our communities safe.”

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