WILSHIRE CENTER : Fear Belies Decrease in Violent Crimes

If the statistics say violent crime is decreasing, why don't people feel safer?

That's a question Capt. Nick Salicos of the Police Department's Rampart Division raised last week at a luncheon sponsored by the Wilshire Chamber of Commerce.

Salicos said violent crime in the division is down about 15% so far this year compared to last year. "Raw data-wise, we're in good shape," he said. "The problem is that your sensation of how safe you are has nothing to do with those numbers."

Salicos underscored the importance of a visible police presence in the fight against crime and fear. For example, about 80% of all crimes in the Rampart Division are committed in public view, he said, and are thus "repressible" if uniformed officers are more visible and accessible.

Some problems, such as drug dealing or aggressive panhandling, demand more concentrated attention by police officers, Salicos said. Toward that end, he has formed a unit under Senior Lead Officer Andrew Voge to focus on specific problems identified by the police and the community.

Salicos said his plans to reach out to community groups and work with a community advisory board should also counter feelings that people are powerless to fight crime. "The community advisory board will be a forum for information on community problems that need police attention," he said.

When asked about aggressive panhandlers who walk in front of motorists stopped at intersections, Salicos stressed the importance of reporting incidents to the police. "We need to have you call us and tell us where the problem is," he said.

To report a crime in a non-emergency situation: (213) 485-2681.

The Rampart Division's front desk: (213) 485-4064; the Wilshire Division's front desk: (213) 485-4022. Normandie Avenue separates Rampart on the east and Wilshire on the west.

Senior Lead Officer Voge's special unit: (213) 485-5950.

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