At a regular City Council meeting on Monday, April 5, 2021, Captain of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department West Hollywood station, Edward C. Ramirez, presented the council with a Public Safety Update. In that update, Captain Ramirez debunked some recent claims by a home security company which ranked the city of West Hollywood as being one of the most dangerous cities in California. The report made local and national headlines.
“Recently there was an advertisement article authored by a home security company peddling home and business security systems, which purported to have conducted a study,” he said at the virtual council meeting. “This study unfortunately received significant media coverage due to skewed and unsubstantiated findings. The company listed the most dangerous cities in California in 2021, which included the City of West Hollywood. The article indicated the security company used the Bureau of Justice Statistics to arrive at that conclusion. It is difficult to determine what methodology the security company used, or how they arrived at their findings. It appears they may have used a formula or methodology which is not used in low enforcement or endorsed by the FBI when looking at crime. The security company indicated they obtained their crime statistics from Bureau of Justice Statistics. We reached out the the Bureau of Justice Statistics section and had them review the article. They indicated that the security company may have used the Bureau Justice Statics website to define some terms like violent crimes and property crimes, but it appears the security company did not use the website to source the data they used.”
Captain Ramirez said that although West Hollywood has approximately 36,000 residents, it is important to know that on any given day the number of people driving to the city, or coming West Hollywood to shop, visit a bar, club or restaurant dramatically increases the number of people in the city. The traffic of people does not include special events such as Pride, Halloween and the Los Angeles Marathon to name a few.
“It is not clear what period the security used to collect these statistics,” he said. “It also appears the security company may have used a method where they compared the number of crimes for a population of 100,000. To achieve this comparison for West Hollywood, they seem to just triple the population and triple the number of crimes. This process unfortunately creates a system that carries the same weight as a murder. The study does not appear to be an empirical, or accurate measurement of crime for the city of West Hollywood. This information from the FBI indicates that prevailing opinion of advisory groups without the crime index and the modified crime index were not true indicators of the criminality because they were always driven upwards by the offense with the highest number. Typically larceny or theft, the sheer volume of both offenses overshadowed more serious but less frequently committed offenses creating a bias against a jurisdiction with a high number of larceny thefts and a low of other serious crimes such as murder and rape. For instance, the security company report indicated there were eight murders per year here nin West Hollywood. This information is simply false. Although one murder is too many, we have have had nine murders in the last ten years, which equate to less than one per year.”
According to the Public Safety Update, the City of West Hollywood continues to be a safe place to live, visit, and work. The West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station, the City’s Public Safety staff, and the City’s Public Safety Commission regularly examine crime statistics to identify problem areas and adjust resource deployment as appropriate.
The Public Safety Update shows that crime was down in almost every category. For the period of July through December 2020 versus July through December 2019, Part 1 Crime decreased by 33 percent (Part 1 Crime includes murder, manslaughter, sex offenses, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, motor vehicle theft, and arson). Vehicle Burglaries saw a big decrease, dropping by 74 percent.
A noteworthy increase is that Other Burglaries rose during the same time period by 90 percent, as businesses shuttered by the pandemic were hard hit primarily because of increased exposure time to burglaries. To combat such burglaries, the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station implemented a Whole Community Approach, which included:
1. Increased engagement with businesses and providing effective strategies to protect businesses from burglaries;
2. Posting of burglary tips on social media platforms and encouragement for the community to report suspicious behavior;
3. Direction from the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station Captain for high visibility patrol during peak times when criminals target businesses; and
4. Created by West Hollywood Station’s Detective Bureau of burglary bulletins, briefings, and ensuring patrol deputies were aware of trends and possible suspects.
The number of reported rapes increased by 31 percent. “Regarding the increase in rape,” said Captain Ramirez. “It is important to know 11 of the 17 rape incidents are related to a 2018 case involving a porn actor and film maker with additional rape victims having come forward. All of the incidents occurred over many years, but according to guidelines requiring the victims to be counted during the month they’re reported, which caused these numbers to spike significantly for this reporting period.”
West Hollywood Station Sheriff’s Deputies have received body-worn cameras and training. All patrol personnel now have body-worn cameras and the program has been fully functional since October 2020. The new program has been running smoothly and Deputies have seamlessly incorporated the body-worn cameras into their duties, which promotes Deputy accountability.
Staff members from multiple City departments have been working with the City’s Public Safety Commission to provide input on current and possible programs and policies to promote justice and equity in policing. Current and proposed work includes:
- City staff and Sheriff’s personnel working with the Center for Policing Equity (CPE) to conduct a data study of West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station’s data; the primary areas of study by CPE include use of force, vehicle stops, and pedestrian stops;
- City staff identifying a consultant to lead community engagement discussions on promoting social justice and policing reform, which will provide broad inclusion of the West Hollywood community and advocacy groups to gather a diverse range of input, experiences, and stories;
- Supplementing and/or partnering civilian positions with sworn officers/Mental Evaluation Teams (MET);
- Supporting broader efforts such as the Alternatives to Incarceration Work Group (Care First, Jail Last), the Office of the Inspector General, and the Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission;
- Continued collaboration between the City’s Social Services contracted organizations and law enforcement; and
- Continued partnership between the City’s Code Compliance Division and West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station to promote neighborhood livability and address the various quality of life issues that regularly impact the West Hollywood community.
The City of West Hollywood’s Public Safety Department provides oversight of law enforcement and coordinates community programs to reduce crime and increase public safety and the quality of life for citizens, businesses, and visitors to West Hollywood. The City contracts with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department for police protection, the Los Angeles County Fire Department for fire protection services, and Block by Block and PACWEST for additional safety services. To learn more about the agencies, programs, and initiatives that make the City of West Hollywood a safe place, download “Public Safety in the City of West Hollywood” at www.weho.org/home/
The Public Safety Update staff report is available for download (PDF) at: https://weho.granicus.com/