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Crime Rise to Put Street Barricades Back in Sepulveda

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Citing increases in open drug dealing and other crimes in a Sepulveda neighborhood where street barricades were taken down two months ago, police said Thursday that the barriers will be reinstalled early in June, at least temporarily.

Los Angeles Police Sgt. J.W. Thompson said street barricades will be returned to the 12-block area bounded by Orion Avenue, Nordhoff Street, Langdon Avenue and Parthenia Street because crime has jumped more than 35% in that area since the barriers were removed March 19, after two months in place.

Thompson said patrol officers have also seen an increase in drug trafficking on streets in the area, and on Monday there was a drive-by shooting that left a suspected gang member injured.

“All in all, the problems are coming back and we’ve decided to put the barricades back,” Thompson said.

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Once again, the portable, wooden sawhorse-style barriers will be used to block off all but the Rayen Street entrance to the neighborhood, police said. The barriers will be removed twice a day to allow passage of buses serving Langdon Avenue School.

The Orion neighborhood is just east of the Golden State Freeway. Police have said its proximity to the freeway helped the area gain a reputation as a drive-through drug-buying zone. A nearby neighborhood with a similar reputation, along Columbus Avenue, was barricaded in November and permanent barriers are expected to be in place there this month.

But Thompson said the Orion neighborhood has fewer problems and police administrators have no plans to barricade it permanently. Instead, the neighborhood will be monitored and the barriers will be removed if crime drops again.

“There is no indication at this time” that the barricades will become permanent, he said. “If we can solve the problems without having to go with the permanent barricades, that is the way we want to go.”

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The barricades were in place in the Orion neighborhood for eight weeks beginning Jan. 18. Police statistics show that during that period there were 70 reports of so-called Part 1 crimes, which include theft, auto theft, burglary, robbery, assault, rape and murder.

During the same period last year, without the barricades, there were 131 crimes in that category, leading police to conclude that the barricades had reduced crime approximately 40%.

But in the first seven weeks after the barricades were removed, Part 1 crimes regained nearly half the reduction, jumping to 95 reports.

Thompson said police administrators do not believe the barricades are the only answer to reducing crime in the neighborhood. He said a patrol task force will work in the area and the department will step up efforts to get residents involved in Neighborhood Watch and youth programs.

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Thompson said residents in the Orion neighborhood have welcomed news that the barriers will be returning. “Opinion was 98% against taking them down,” Thompson said.

Nick Notarangelo, resident manager of an apartment building on Orion, said he was pleased the barricades will again be installed.

“I think it’s good,” he said. “Troubles came back after they took them away before. I can look out my window and see drugs, teen-agers ganging up. Then this week we had a shooting in the area. I want to see the barricades back.

“Maybe if they leave them a little longer this time things will really get cleaned up.”

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