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LAPD’s Rampart May Get a Break

Times Staff Writer

The Los Angeles Police Department is planning to ease crime problems in its Rampart Division, the busiest of its 18 geographic areas, by simply giving some of those troubles away.

The department wants to take about a third of Rampart’s territory--mainly parts of Silver Lake and Echo Park--and add it to the relatively quiet Northeast Division.

“We are trying to reduce the workload in Rampart because it’s just too high,” explained Capt. John White, Rampart’s commander.

The shift, which officials say will be approved soon and is expected to be in effect Jan. 1, is being welcomed by residents and business people in the areas that would join Northeast. Some claim that Rampart’s sections of Silver Lake and Echo Park do not get enough police attention because Rampart officers have to concentrate their efforts on tougher areas, such as MacArthur Park and the Pico-Union district.

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“Rampart considers us to be the Beverly Hills of their division,” said restaurateur Larry Lloyd, president of the Silver Lake Merchants Assn. “As a result, we suffer. The more of our area we can get in Northeast, the happier we would be.”

City Councilman Mike Woo, whose 13th District includes much of the area to be moved, has lobbied for the proposed change.

“It will not guarantee you receive faster service,” Woo told a recent meeting of the Silver Lake Residents Assn., “but we hope so because the numbers make sense.”

The change would shift to Northeast everything north of Sunset Boulevard between its intersections with the Pasadena Freeway and Fountain Avenue.

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Two Trouble Spots

As a result, Rampart would lose two potential trouble spots--Dodger Stadium with its huge crowds and Elysian Park, where police are continuing a crackdown against cruisers. Rampart also would lose about 10% of its reported crime, according to statistics for the first quarter of this year.

“It is going to make it rougher on Northeast, but that’s the trade-off,” said Capt. Myron Wasson, commanding officer of the Northeast Division. “It’s a way of trying to cut back the load at Rampart, so the officers there can breathe.”

His main concern, Wasson said, is that there is only a handful of roads that cross from his current territory’s southwest boundary to what would be his new turf. In between are some substantial obstacles--the Southern Pacific rail yard, the Los Angeles River and the Golden State Freeway.

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“Even with red lights flashing and sirens going, it could still take 20 minutes to get from Highland Park to Silver Lake,” he said, referring to the neighborhoods at opposite ends of the reconfigured division.

Still, Wasson called the change “reasonable.” Unlike Rampart’s overcrowded station house at 2710 W. Temple St., Northeast’s station in a renovated industrial building at 3353 San Fernando Road has room for more officers and equipment. In addition, Wasson said, “We have what we consider a manageable crime problem and a manageable amount of calls for service.”

Northeast covers much of Los Feliz, Griffith Park, Silver Lake, Atwater, Eagle Rock, Highland Park and Mount Washington. It serves about 170,000 residents and is spread over 25.5 square miles, with a density of about 6,638 residents per square mile.

Most Densely Populated

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In contrast, Rampart’s population is about 250,000, not counting the estimated 50,000 illegal aliens there. With 21,439 residents per square mile, it is by far the most densely populated of any police division in the city.

Rampart’s 11.7 miles includes about half of Koreatown, parts of the Wilshire Corridor, the MacArthur Park area and the gang- and drug- infested Pico-Union District, as well as Silver Lake and Echo Park.

For the first quarter of 1986, Rampart had 6,303 reported major crimes, the most of any of the 18 divisions. The Wilshire Division was second, with 5,862. Northeast, with 3,285, ranked 13th.

A deputy to Woo, Patrick Michell, said the Rampart desk often has to choose between responding to a report of a murder near MacArthur Park or a break-in in Silver Lake. “Naturally, they will go to the murder,” he said.

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Police officials estimated that about 14 of Rampart’s 205 police officers would be moved to Northeast, which has about 120 officers.

Wasson described the portions of Silver Lake and Echo Park to be moved as relatively stable neighborhoods that he hopes can be added to the Northeast Division’s string of civilian Neighborhood Watch programs.

“Probably because Rampart has such a transient population and such a large number of illegal aliens who have a cultural mistrust of police, it doesn’t have the base of community support we have,” he said.


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