DLANC: March Public Health and Safety Meeting
DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES — I mentioned back in my March DLANC Board Meeting write-up that in public comment the suggestion had been made that DLANC supply the funds to purchase a horse for LAPD. The Downtown News made mention as well, in one of last week's news briefs:
The horses aren't cheap, either. At $5,000 each, the Los Angeles Police Equestrian Fund is asking for donations to defray the costs of a new horse. In fact, the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council last week mulled over an idea to sponsor a horse. In the meantime, Grubbs said the unit acquired a new horse last week. Major, as he's being called, should be patrolling soon, pending paperwork and training.
At the March DLANC meeting the matter of using DLANC money to purchase items for LAPD was referred to the Public Health & Safety committee. Tonight I attended their March meeting out of curiosity, looking to see how that went.
I got to the meeting late, thanks to the 177 taking its time getting to JPL to pick people up. When I arrived discussion of item 4 was already under way:
4- Discussion and Approval of Recommendation for LAPD Donation to the Executive Committee.
Committee co-chair Ken Yeung had put Kathleen's handout into a nice thirteen page packet. Also included was a copy of the priorities DLANC had submitted to the mayor's office for 2004-2005, showing that the requests fit into item two: increasing the number of LAPD officers and modernizing their infrastructure. And just for good measure he threw in my already-linked write-up from the March Board meeting and Don's recent picture of LAPD horses Downtown.
The request that was approved in the committee and will go before the DLANC Executive Committee (and then the full Board) is for a little over $19,000. That breaks down into the following aspects:
- $3,120 - Six digital cameras for LAPD gang cars
- $6,000 - Eight bikes
- $5,000 - One horse
- $5,000 - Pilot project for mounted police cameras
Let's take a look at each...
I'll confess that I don't know a whole lot about the operations of the LAPD. How it's been explained to me, though, is that these are digital cameras which would be placed in LAPD's Central Division gang cars. The officers would then have them conveniently accessible to pull out and use to document gang activity scenes. I'm not sure exactly what kind of cameras they are, but the ones LAPD wants cost $520 each for the camera and memory cards.
To put more bike cops on the street, Central Division needs some new bikes. As I mentioned before, the bikes LAPD rides usually cost $1,500 each, but they can be purchased eight for $6,000. That's a pretty good deal; they ride some nice ones.
Though you might not think that equestrian patrols make sense in an urban area, they actually work quite well in event-type situations. Mounted patrolmen are up high, so they're both highly visible and able to effectively scan the area around them. Downtown would not have exclusive use of a horse that we purchased for LAPD. That's probably the biggest argument against putting our funds toward this. But you have to consider the events Downtown will attract once projects like LA Live and Grand Avenue start to take shape. The horse also offers Downtown, and DLANC specifically, a chance to get its name out to the community. Having the horse riding around with a DLANC name or logo on a saddle blanket or something of that nature could foster goodwill for the council. I think it's a good use of funds, and I intend to support it when it comes before the Board.
The mounted camera program was Brady's addition to Kathleen's original three items. He envisions a coalition of DLANC, the BID's, and local businesses funding a network of mounted cameras whose feeds would run straight to LAPD. This would be similar to the system that's long been in place in London, and that recently went into place along Hollywood Blvd. He thinks that a pilot run along 5th and Main (5th from the Hill St. subway station east to Main, and then branching north and south from there) would cost about $70,000, but he doesn't have the exact numbers in hand as of tonight. DLANC's contribution of $5,000 would be a sort of good faith gesture to get the project started.
Just a note: I mentioned Central Division in the text above, but I want to make clear that DLANC's boundaries also include patrol areas for LAPD's Newton Station. Again, you can refer back to me not knowing much about how LAPD works.
Anyway, all this will come before the Executive Committee on April 5th, and then the full Board one week later.
Update (Tuesday morning): I've been corrected that DLANC does not include Newton Station, but our boundaries do include a portion of Newton's patrol area. That still means to me that we owe them a portion of our attention.