LAPD on Palisades Presence

The following is a letter from Captain Jonathan Tom, Commanding Officer, for Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) West LA Area, to the Pacific Palisades Community Council (PPCC) regarding our Beach detail officers and policing in the Palisades.

All,

Rusty [Redican] was the Police Officer 3 on the Beach detail and not a Senior Lead Officer. SLO Brian Espin is replacing SLO Mike Moore, not Rusty. Rusty decided to leave on his own to pursue other opportunities.  He is being replaced by Police Officer 3 (FTO) Jose Bermudez. 

Staffing is and has been difficult for us as we are often resorting to Patrol Minimums, which is the minimum number of officers needed to provide basic police services to our 65 square miles. While the Palisades is an important and vital part of the West LA community, it is not the only area we are responsible for. When we struggle to make Patrol minimums, the Beach detail, SLO’s, Gang detail and Juvenile/School officers are all utilized to make those numbers. Because the Beach detail comes out of Patrol, they are the first to be “activated.” I am personally invested in the idea of the Beach detail and have augmented it whenever I can.  I have instructed my watch commanders not to activate them unless absolutely necessary but obviously it is sometimes necessary to do so. The Palisades is the only area that gets “extra” officers. The fact that the Palisades gets these extra officers has been a point of contention for other Westside communities, but I have staunchly defended it whenever the injection is raised.  

The Department is down approximately 600 officers from where we were at the beginning of the pandemic. This is largely due to the budget cuts which have largely been restored as I understand it.  West LA division is approximately 30 officers below our “authorized” strength but we are not alone as many divisions are experiencing personnel shortages.  The unfortunate reality is that while it’s easy to turn the “personnel faucet” off by not hiring regular recruit classes, it takes a long time to turn the faucet back on. Recruiting, background checks, and training takes a long time. Recruiting in law enforcement has been difficult across the entire country. There are many factors that are contributing to this. 

That being said, we are invested in doing our best to keep all of our communities safe. While Rusty has been the most visible and vocal officer in the beach area, we have many officers that have developed their own expertise in the area. I am confident that Officer Bermudez and SLO Espin will be proactive and engaged in protecting the Palisades. Over the years, we have worked with Rusty and others to map out known encampment locations and worked with the LAFD, Park Rangers and MRCA Rangers. I cannot promise daily checks, but can promise that we will do our best.  I do not always have the resources to accomplish what is being asked but always do our best. 

We know that the Palisades has issues that are unique to the area and have allocated resources accordingly. Everyone should also understand however that the overwhelming majority of our violent and property crime occurs east of the Palisades. 

See below from SLO Espin:

  • Our beach detail Officers respond to calls for service in and around the beach area, the bluffs, trailheads, hillsides from PCH up to Sunset and Coastline Dr down to Entrada.
  • We have the maps that Officer Redican provided to us when we did the hillside Taskforce with all the other entities last month in August.  The map describes various locations where camps have been located.
  • Our current beach detail Officers notify the PPTFH each day they are deployed in the area. 
  • The beach detail Officers check the various known encampments every time they are deployed and search for new ones.
  • We receive and share daily / weekly updates from the PPTFH with individuals the volunteers contact in the Palisades.
  • The beach detail Officers work in tandem with the PPTFH on a regular basis to check on individuals who are experiencing homelessness and offer services.  As well as provide security for the PPTFH volunteers while they clean up an encampment in restricted areas.
  • Beach detail Officers have empathy and use discretion when enforcing ordinances with individuals who are experiencing homelessness depending on the nature of the incident.
  • West LA Area, has and will continue to partner with beaches and park agencies (LA City Park Rangers, Mountain Recreation Conservation Authority (MRCA), California State Park Rangers, LAFD) to conduct random taskforce in the hillsides and bluffs to mitigate individuals loitering or camping in the restricted high fire danger areas.
  • The idea to use drone technology to scout and locate potential encampments has been done with LAFD but we (LAPD) are not permitted to use Drones. Only our Metropolitan Division is permitted to use Drones for critical / tactical observation. 
  • The Palisades Senior lead Officer routinely adjusts days and hours to accommodate the needs for the community.
  • Senior Lead Officer sends out a weekly / bi-weekly crime update to the Palisades community showing current crime trends and crime prevention tips.  

Additionally, the decision to contract with private security and to organize volunteers is a community decision.  As we have always done, we will work with anyone that is working toward keeping the community safe. 

I hope this answers some of the concerns. 

Sincerely,

Captain Jonathan Tom

Commanding Officer

West Los Angeles Area

in Crime, News
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