Local Residents and Officials Call For More Sheriff Patrols

East Los Angeles Crime

By: Rachel Scott

Residents and officials are calling on the East LA Sheriff's station to beef up patrols after a new report showed the lack of deputies in heavy crime populated areas. L.A. County Supervisor Gloria Molina monitored the sherriff patrol cars in East Los Angeles and several other unincorporated areas.

She found the total number of deputies patrolling the street did not meet department standards. In many cases, there were more deputies responding to calls during the week than any other times, leaving low staff on weekends. Friday and Saturday nights are a critical time in East L.A. according to resident Hector Ivan, because it's when most of the crime occurs. “You see three or four of them together in the day time and then at night, there's not enough. There are a lot of forces moving right now, but at night you see way less of them," he said.

The 21-year-old says the few sheriff's deputies that do patrol the streets, pull over the wrong people. He explained that he has been stopped by deputies fifteen times this year, for what he calls as "racial profiling". "If I'm wearing a hat and baggy jeans, they will stop us for no reason. A lot of times when they're passing by, they'll just harass you," he said.

Instead of stopping "innocent" teens, Ivan believes the department should focus on catching the people that are committing actual crimes. "They spend so much time focusing on us that they forget about the real criminals and the gangsters that are destroying our communities," he said. "They have few resources and most of them are looking for the trouble in the wrong places. They need to have more patrol cars," he continued.

But at the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors meeting on September 30th, Assistant Sheriff Michael Rothans argued the department had already taken steps to improve scheduling so that more deputies would be out on the streets. Deputy Aargon with the East L.A. Sheriff's Department says deputies receive dozens of calls on any given shift and have to prioritize the calls that come in. Since domestic violence calls. "If I'm helping this crime that just occurred, your crime is a report crime--not that's it's any less but if we catch this guys right now, we can take him to court and he can answer to the judge," he said. The way the deputies handle calls has contributed to a decrease in crime, the department says. In a statement provided by email, the department noted that there was an issue with scheduling but referenced the area's low crime statistics. "At the end of July 2014, preliminary reported crime date shows that overall incidents have violent crimes have decreased 5.12 percent."

Although crimes have dropped, residents like Ivan say that is not enough. "People are getting shot and killed, stuck up for cash, robbed and held at gunpoint. Rarely do those situations happen during the weekday. It's the weekends that need the most attention," he said.

Local resident, Arnold Sachs spoke out at the Board of Supervisors meeting saying that the problem has spanned over the last year. "My concern goes back to that situation in the unincorporated area with the Sheriff's oversight and the problem we had last year, with the same situation where sheriff's patrols were not adequate for the east," he said.

Supervisor Gloria Molina expressed anger and frustration over the lack of progress made by the sheriff's department. "All I do is look around for the East L.A. cars and it's a big gag. They keep telling me they're out there. Supposed to be a car that says, "East L.A. Sherriff…I think they're parked somewhere with flat tires. I haven't found them driving around my district," she said.

The Board of Supervisors agreed to spend more than $12 million dollars to boost up patrols in unincorporated areas like East Los Angeles. Yet it will still be up the East L.A. Sherriff's Department to ensure that there are more deputies on patrol in the weekends.

While the policy measures play out in the Board of Supervisors meetings, Ivan has to deal with the reality of what it means to have less deputies on patrol. "I have to hear stories of my friends being held at gunpoint for an IPod. I watch as cops avoid certain areas because there's trouble that way. If a crime goes down it's all hush hush. A man got killed by a gang just last week, who was there to protect him?"

For now, Ivan just wonders if one extra patrol unit could've saved someone's life and as he waits for the department to make changes, he hopes that he's not the next one to be a causality of poor scheduling.

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