A group of hand selected officers from the Los Angeles Police Department’s Hollenbeck Division have been reassigned to foot patrols in eight designated areas, including several in Boyle Heights, as part of a new Community Partners Program announced at a news conference held today in Mariachi Plaza.
Captain Martin Baeza, commanding officer of the Hollenbeck Division, said placing several of his officers on footbeats will help “take our community policing model to the next level, which is relationship building.”
As part of the program, four popular area corridors were added to four foot patrols begun last year in the Hollenbeck Division, including three in Boyle Heights: Soto Street between Olympic and Whittier boulevards; Olympic Boulevard between Soto and Camulos streets; and First Street between Boyle Avenue and Soto.
Two other Boyle Heights corridors were among the first four on foot patrol: Cesar Chávez Avenue between State Street and Evergreen Avenue, and Whittier Boulevard between Indiana Avenue and Lorena Street. The other corridors are in El Sereno and Lincoln Heights.
Baeza said the foot patrols will allow officers to better familiarize themselves with members of the community and to have a more visible presence at popular spots like Mariachi Plaza, included in one of the new corridors.
“The foundation of this program is really relationship policing,” said Baeza, who said the program is in response to what the community has asked of him in the two years that he has been the commanding officer at Hollenbeck. “We realized years ago that the police department cannot arrest itself out of every problem.”
At the press conference, area Councilman José Huizar acknowledged there has been a “small uptake” in crime in the Eastside and welcomed the new foot patrols as a potential crime deterrent.
According to LAPD statistics, violent crime in Boyle Heights has increased 35% in 2015, compared to the same period in 2014, with some forms of violent crimes, such as rape, increasing as much as 110% in the same period.
In fact, two violent sexual attacks were reported in the immediacy of Mariachi Plaza in the last two months, including an attempted rape in April and a rape last Friday. Baeza said the two cases were unrelated and called the most recent, in which a suspect is still at large, an “isolated incident.”
Baeza said today’s announcement was not in response to Friday’s rape, but that having a foot patrol in the area may be useful in preventing future incidents.
“One of the hopes that I have is that if something of that nature happens, that with the relationships that we have with the community, with the officers in this program, that we’ll have stronger leads that will lead us to quicker and safer arrests,” he said.