Authorities Monday announced a program to double the number of police footbeat patrols in the Boyle Heights, Lincoln Heights and El Sereno areas.
The “Hollenbeck Community Partners Program” will add four “corridors” to the existing four corridors that are patrolled on foot by officers from the Los Angeles Police Department’s Hollenbeck Station.
Officers will work with businesses and residents to improve the quality of life in the community, LAPD officials said at a late-morning news conference at Mariachi Plaza, at First Street and Boyle Avenue.
The program takes LAPD’s community policing efforts to a higher level, Hollenbeck Capt. Martin Baeza told EGP.
Baeza said the timing could not be better given the recent nationwide focus on police interactions with the community, many of which have negative overtones.
“What this program does is put our police officers out in the community, where they can get to know the community and the community can get to know them,” Baeza said. “They will get to know people’s name and hear their concerns,” the captain said.
Councilman Jose Huizar represents the area and strongly supports Beaza's effort.
He said the community has been asking for footbeat patrols to be expanded to other areas for some time, but it took a while to marshal the resources and get everything in place.
“The timing is great,” said Huizar. “We’ve been working hard on the commercial corridors in the area, to make them more walkable, the police foot patrols will add to that,” the councilman said.
Residents will feel safer, business owners will feel safer and visitors to the area will feel safer, and that’s a positive thing for the community, Huizar said.
Growing up in Boyle Heights, Huizar said the LAPD did not always have a good relationship with the community, but times have changed and the majority of residents welcome the larger police presence in their neighborhoods.
While crime across the city has dropped significantly over the last decade, reaching lows not seen in decades, Baez says there's still more to do.
But the police can’t do it alone, he said, adding that they need the cooperation of the community.
“That’s why I named it the ‘Hollenbeck Community Partners Program,’ to show that it takes everyone working together to solve problems,” Baeza told EGP.
“We are working with the [City Attorney’s] neighborhood prosecutor for the area, the chamber of commerce” and other groups to solve quality of life issues in these areas, emphasized the captain.
Footbeat patrol officers will not replace senior lead officers in the area, but will work directly with them, he said
Nor will the increase of officers walking reduce the number of patrol cars, he added, explaining the division was able to secure six additional officers to beef up the number of police assigned to Hollenbeck. “We had support from the top of the department.”
All of the 16 officers assigned to the footbeats volunteered for the assignment, according to Baeza. He said, like him, several of the officers have roots in the local community. At least one officer on each patrol team speaks Spanish, he said.
“And I think in our community, which is an immigrant community, I think it’s very important that the community have a trust with the police,” Baeza said.
“What Capt. Baeza has proposed is the next step in community policing,” said Huizar. “We will be looking at it, to see how it works, and if it’s something that will work in other neighborhoods.”
The eight footbeat patrol corridors are:
— Cesar Chavez Boulevard between State Street and Evergreen Avenue;
— North Broadway between Avenue 21 and Lincoln Park Boulevard;
— Huntington Drive between Eastern Avenue and Pueblo Street;
— Whittier Boulevard between Indiana Avenue and Lorena Street;
— Soto Street between Olympic and Whittier boulevards;
— Olympic Boulevard between Soto and Camulos streets;
— Eastern Avenue between Huntington Drive and Klamath Street; and
— First Street Between Boyle Avenue and Soto Street.