SHERMAN OAKS : Homeowners Fearful, Group Leader Says

Statistics may show that crime is down in the San Fernando Valley, but many Sherman Oaks residents are afraid to take an evening stroll down Ventura Boulevard, go to the movies or use an automated teller machine, said Richard Close, president of the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Assn.

Representatives from the homeowners were expected to meet with a captain from the Los Angeles Police Department today to discuss ways of improving the sense of security in Sherman Oaks.

"If Sherri Foreman could get killed taking money from an ATM, it could happen to anyone," said Close, noting that Foreman was killed early in the evening while doing something thousands of Valley residents do every day. "People just feel more unsafe than they did a year ago."

James McMurray, a captain at department's Van Nuys division, said that, although killings committed during carjackings and ATM robberies strike a chord in the public consciousness, "they have an effect beyond their proportion--the chances of these things happening are very slim."

Close said there is also a sense among Sherman Oaks residents, who share police services with Van Nuys and Panorama City, that they are not receiving their fair share of police protection.

"They (the police) all get sent to the battleground areas of the city," Close said. "It doesn't appear that Sherman Oaks--and other middle-class neighborhoods--are getting their fair share of protection."

McMurray said he hopes the meeting will be a chance "to put some names to some faces of people in the community" and to build a relationship that would be useful if there are problems in the future.

"It's incumbent upon me to keep the communications open," he said. "I don't want them to feel like they are second-class citizens in our area."

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