Police Clear Westwood Streets of Teen-Agers
In 16-year-old Chris Johnson’s view, the weekend crackdown on curfew violators in Westwood Village was “totally lame.” Standing at a noisy street corner, the Palos Verdes teen-ager scoffed at the idea of being “busted” for staying out after 10 p.m.
“My parents would be mad at the cops,” said Johnson, sidestepping the steady flow of pubescent Madonna imitators and their beaus. “They let me stay out until midnight.”
Like many teen-agers, however, Johnson found somewhere else to go when the curfew hour arrived. As teams of uniformed policemen took to the streets, the Westwood sidewalks virtually emptied of people under 18.
The weekend sweep, which lasted from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m., was part of a long-running effort to cut down on teen-age traffic in Westwood. Merchants have complained that teen-agers are hurting business by creating a “carnival-like” atmosphere in the once quiet community, and police said that juveniles are contributing to a rising crime problem.
Los Angeles Police Sgt. Curt Hussey, who helped organize the 20-man foot patrol, said police weren’t interested in teen-agers who were on their way home. “We’re looking for people out there cruising and messing around,” he said. “We’re not after numbers.”
Police on the special patrol walked the streets in pairs, occasionally stopping erratic or youthful-looking pedestrians and drivers. Others manned four rooftop locations. Curfew violators were given warnings at 10 p.m., and arrested if they were still on the streets after 11 p.m.
Picked Up by Parents
At the end of the first evening, authorities said they had picked up 12 juveniles, who were held at the West Los Angeles police station until their parents picked them up. In one instance, parents had to drive two hours from Victorville to claim their son. In addition, police issued 188 tickets for moving violations, equipment problems and parking violations.
In previous crackdowns police detained as many as 99 teen-agers in one night. By publicizing the event, authorities said they hoped to discourage juveniles from coming and risking arrest. But many of the teen-agers seemed unaware of the sweep until they arrived and spotted the foot patrols and television cameras along the half-mile-square area bounded by Wilshire and Veteran boulevards and Hilgard and Le Conte avenues.
Teen-agers crowded the sidewalks and congregated on corners. Others honked their horns and yelled at friends from shiny sports cars and beat-up Volkswagens. Teen-agers could even be seen rising out of the roofs of chauffeured limousines.
One group of girls ran down the street giggling after being interviewed by a television station. The five girls, who were from Hollywood and the Hancock Park area, said they came to Westwood because it was better than the Beverly Center and a teen club in Santa Monica for finding good-looking boys.
Asked about the crackdown, the girls predicted that it would have severe repercussions on the teen-age dating ritual. “We saw some really cute guys, but like we can’t get them now,” said 14-year-old Nicole Fakhouri. “We usually stay out until midnight.”
In another instance, an 18-year-old refused to give his 17-year-old friend a ride home, saying he didn’t want to give up his night on the town just because his friend was under age. When the friend complained and asked once again for a ride, the 18-year-old said “No way, dude” and walked away.
Still another group of teen-agers complained that they were being treated like criminals.
Seventeen-year-old Mitchell Cannady said he’d been coming to Westwood “almost every weekend” for two years. He questioned why he and his friends should be treated differently from other visitors. “I’m old enough to be out as late as I want,” Cannady said.