City Council passes Neighborhood Safety Enhancement Plan
Published on March 23, 2022
At their Tuesday evening meeting, Lakewood City Council Members passed a series of enhancements to public safety programs in Lakewood.
While crime rates in Lakewood remain low compared to most nearby communities, there has been a significant increase in the theft of autos and auto parts in Lakewood, including catalytic converters. This is a statewide and even national problem at present, but council members said they want to do all they can at the local level to protect residents’ property and enhance the feeling of safety in Lakewood.
The Neighborhood Safety Enhancement Plan passed by the City Council includes:
Increased Deputy Sheriff patrols at night in Lakewood neighborhoods. (These will be added to existing patrols through overtime for deputies. Daytime patrols will not decrease.)
Lakewood will hire Security Guards to also patrol neighborhoods at night, working in collaboration with the Lakewood Sheriff’s Station.
- The reason: The Sheriff’s Department countywide is currently limited in staffing and not allowing cities to add patrol positions to their contracts, so the Security Guards will enable Lakewood to increase the number of patrol vehicles during the critical overnight hours, with the goal of nearly doubling the number of patrol cars normally on Lakewood streets overnight.
- The Security Guards will not carry out law enforcement actions, but will observe and report to Deputy Sheriffs for fast response. They will also provide a highly visible nighttime presence driving through Lakewood neighborhoods.
- The Security Guards will be hired on a three-month contract, and their effectiveness will be evaluated over that time period before a decision is made on continuing their services.
Expanding the number of Automatic License Plate Reading cameras in Lakewood.
- The ALPR cameras, part of the city’s Advanced Surveillance and Protection System, alert the Lakewood Sheriff’s Station when a wanted vehicle has passed the cameras, enabling Deputy Sheriffs to find suspects wanted for criminal activity.
- The City of Lakewood’s investment in this high-tech video system is above and beyond what most cities do for public safety and has paid off with the arrest of several hundred suspects since its installation, catching suspects before they can commit crimes in Lakewood and tracking down those who have.
Rebate program for residents to purchase home security cameras.
- These cameras have proven valuable in deterring and spotting criminal activity and in the evidence they provide Sheriff’s investigators to find suspects. With the new rebate program of $50 per camera, Lakewood hopes to add 400 cameras to those already in operation throughout the city. Details on the program will be forthcoming.
Traffic and pedestrian safety.
- The city will purchase an additional radar message board that flashes at motorists driving too fast. This will be one more tool in Lakewood’s toolbox for roadway safety that includes the recent hiring of an extra traffic safety Deputy Sheriff and installing lighted crosswalk safety devices.
More action on homelessness.
- Lakewood currently invests in a Deputy Sheriff who spends a large percentage of his time outreaching to homeless persons about available services but also enforcing the law when criminal behavior occurs.
- Lakewood is close to approval on a county homeless grant to fund a homeless outreach specialist who will work in Lakewood and two neighboring cities. This added position will enhance Lakewood’s overall ability to offer services to the homeless, but to also have Deputy Sheriffs enforce the law when criminal behavior occurs.
Other steps in the plan include:
- Holding extra catalytic converter “etching” events (putting ID on the converters and making them harder to sell if stolen).
- Drafting a city ordinance making it a violation of the Lakewood municipal code to possess uninstalled catalytic converters without proper receipts. This step gives law enforcement greater tools to arrest and prosecute thieves in possession of stolen devices.
- Stepping up efforts to combat street racing.
- Exploring a regional City Prosecutor to pursue criminal charges against suspects that the L.A. County District Attorney is no longer pursuing.
- Increasing publicity for Neighborhood Watch, Volunteers on Patrol and other methods by which Lakewood residents can get involved in maintaining and enhancing safety in their neighborhood and community.
The council provided $400,000 for the various aspects of the Neighborhood Safety Enhancement Plan, with funding allocated from Measure L and Lakewood’s share of the federal American Rescue Plan Act.