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LAPD Pinpoints Valley Crime Zones : Analysis: Study blames increasing gangs, drugs and illegal immigrants for trouble in patrol areas. Findings show a 76.5% increase in Devonshire Division homicides.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Police on Friday released detailed reports that identified some of the worst pockets of crime in the San Fernando Valley and blamed much of the violence on spreading gang activity, increased drug use and a “large victim pool” of illegal immigrants.

The Los Angeles Police Department reports provided rare detail about crime locations but not surprisingly linked many of them to Sepulveda and Van Nuys Boulevards, the north-south corridors that bisect the Valley and have long been known for drug-trafficking and prostitution. In the Van Nuys Division, for example, nine of the 10 toughest neighborhoods bordered those thoroughfares and contributed 27% of the patrol area’s total crime.

Other troubling findings included a 76.5% increase in homicides in the Devonshire Division between 1992 and 1993; a high concentration of parolees--1,400--residing in the Foothill Division; persistent street robberies along stretches of Sherman Way and Ventura Boulevard in the West Valley Division, and in the North Hollywood Division, three of four hot spots were situated near Hollywood Freeway exits, providing convenient getaways.

A connection between alcohol and crime was also noted in several reports, with liquor stores being associated with street crime more than “upscale” restaurants and bars.

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Based on statistics for the past three to four years, the reports concentrate on murders, rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults, and outline plans for curbing those crimes. The copies made public Friday, however, were edited to delete potentially sensitive strategies such as officer deployment.

Deputy Police Chief Martin H. Pomeroy, the Valley’s top police official, said little in the reports came as a surprise. The documents--prepared by each of the Police Department’s 18 police stations--will be updated quarterly and allow police managers to better use their officers, he said.

“We are looking for refinement in our deployment, not quantum leaps forward,” Pomeroy said.

Pomeroy also said crime analyses are nothing new in the Police Department; the department, he said, is just trying a more scientific approach involving specialists and computer technology.

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“We have for decades analyzed crime statistics,” Pomeroy said. “What has changed is we have instituted a more sophisticated crime analysis process.”

The reports were prepared separately by each police station, and vary widely in their detail, use of statistics and possible causes of crime. Some also lacked detailed explanations for sharp changes in the number of crimes reported.

Devonshire

Some of the most dramatic figures were included in the Devonshire Division report, which compared the first 11 months of 1992 and 1993 and found a 76.5% increase in homicides. No explanation was offered. Other types of crimes were down, with robberies decreasing by 11.5%, sexual assaults (rapes) down by 8.6% and aggravated assaults down by 6.9%.

Overall, the analysis cited three specific high-crime areas in the Devonshire area:

* The Northridge mall area, which the report said attracted criminals because of the high number of pedestrians and heavy traffic.

* The Roscoe-Schoenborn area, bordered by Lindley Avenue on the east, Zelzah Avenue on the west, Roscoe Boulevard on the south and Schoenborn Street on the north. The report characterized this as an area of high-density apartments that “is a target for gang-related activity.”

* And finally the Sepulveda Corridor, which is “inundated with prostitution activity, narcotic trafficking and gang-related activity.”

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Also cited as a problem area, but not included in the top three, was the area around Cal State Northridge.

The three main problem areas, according to the report, accounted for more than 18% of the area’s total violent crime activity. But based on the sheer number of arrests, the three areas accounted for 49.5% of the total arrests for the entire Devonshire Division.

The report also cited a number of successes and set forth strategy for the coming year. It noted, for instance, that the North Hills foot patrol sub-station had been successful in 1993, making the community more aware of the police presence, and the Devonshire bicycle detail increased the number of patrol officers on bikes. The uniformed cyclists were credited with giving the department more flexibility in battling crime.

Also, the Police Department increased the number of “at risk” juveniles enrolled in the Youth Center and Jeopardy programs and continued efforts to expand the Neighborhood Watch program, which the report called “a model for the rest of the city.” It said the number of people participating in the program had increased by 75% during the period.

“These efforts were instrumental in achieving marked decreases in three of the four violent crime categories being addressed: robberies, rapes and aggravated assaults,” the report said.

“The one category which increased dramatically, in spite of the aforementioned efforts, was homicide.”

At the heart of Devonshire’s strategy for the year, it continued, would be community-based policing, which emphasizes one-on-one contact between the beat officers and residents and a more active community involvement in the fight against crime.

Foothill

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In the Foothill Division, the most violent area is the Van Nuys Boulevard corridor from San Fernando Road to Foothill Boulevard because of “low-income housing complexes, gang, and narcotic activities,” the report said.

With the exception of rape, which increased by more than 14%, violent crimes were down from Jan. 1 through Nov. 30, 1993, compared with the same time period in 1992. During this reporting period, 35 people were killed in the Foothill area; in 1992 during the same period, 40 people were killed.

But the pocket bordered by Apperson Street to the north, Sunland Boulevard to the south and west, and from Hanes Canyon Avenue to Tujunga Canyon Boulevard to the east “has experienced a dramatic increase in both calls for service and crimes,” the report said.

The reason, according to the report: an escalation of drug activity combined with a high concentration of multiunit dwellings on Commerce, Samoa and Pinewood avenues between Apperson Street and Foothill Boulevard, which contributed to growth in the area.

In the extreme northwest portion of the division, from the Los Angeles city boundary to the north, the Southern Pacific Railroad to the west, Foothill Boulevard to the south and Sombrero to the east, there were the fewest violent incidents.

The report also detailed hour-by-hour, day-by-day activity, when most crimes occur. As might be expected, the most violent times in Foothill, the report stated, are the weekend nights--between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m.--except for robberies, which occur most frequently on Mondays and on Saturdays from 9 p.m. to 5:30 a.m.

The report also noted that, according to the Department of Corrections, 1,400 parolees live in the Foothill area. “Because of their transient habits,” the report stated, “it is not feasible at this time to track their whereabouts.”

Van Nuys

Street robberies were identified as a major source of violent crime here, largely due to the increasing use of crack cocaine and gang warfare. The report also blamed violent crime on the spread of black gangs from south and central Los Angeles, and noted that many illegal immigrants are often preyed upon by career criminals.

“This group has become a large ‘victim pool’ preyed upon by the criminal element,” the report said. “They are singled out because of their vulnerability and their reluctance to report criminal activity to the police for fear of being turned into the Immigration and Naturalization Service.”

Also in Van Nuys, rapes increased 4% between 1992 and 1993. Analysts found that in 62% of the cases, the victims knew their attackers.

Although homicide statistics for Van Nuys were not available Friday, the report noted that aggressive prosecution of gang members should “send a clear message that dire consequences are certain for any gang members who participate in murder.”

West Valley

Street robberies were cited at the biggest problem in the West Valley Division, where analysts singled out stretches of Sherman Way and Ventura Boulevard as particularly troublesome corridors.

In Canoga Park, robberies were blamed on a high concentration of parolees coupled with the Canoga Park Alabama gang and alleged drug dealing. Lanark Park, Runnymede Park and a motel in the 7400 block of Winnetka Avenue are described as “key problem locations.”

In Encino, the stretch of Ventura Boulevard between White Oak Avenue and Van Alden Avenue has been plagued by street robberies for three apparent reasons, according to the report: low-rent apartments to the north, the nearby Reseda Southside gang, and late-night businesses on the boulevard itself that “create a victim-rich environment.”

North Hollywood

Analysts found the worst section sits just east of the Hollywood Freeway, bordered by Burbank Boulevard on the north, Magnolia Boulevard on the south, Tujunga Avenue to the west and the city of Burbank on the east.

During 1992 and 1993, this area had six homicides, the highest number in North Hollywood, as well as the highest rate of prostitution arrests and number of calls for police service. The area also had the second-highest number of rapes and robberies and third most aggravated assaults in North Hollywood.

The report stated that the area is home to the North Hollywood Boys gang, which it describes as being “very active.”

The report stated that most of the crime here occurred along major streets--Riverside Drive and Lankershim and Magnolia boulevards.

Also contributing to this report were Times staff writers Timothy Williams, Abigail Goldman and Hugo Martin.

LAPD Report Highlights

Devonshire Division

The Los Angeles Police Department analysis within Devonshire Division during January-November, 1993, identifies three key locations accounting for nearly one-fifth of the area’s total violent crime activity.

* Where: The Northridge Mall area

Why: It is a high pedestrian and vehicle traffic area “which attracts the criminal element.”

* Where: Roscoe-Schoenborn area (bordered by Lindley Avenue on the east, Zelzah Avenue on the west, Roscoe Boulevard on the south, Schoenborn Street on the north)

Why: It is a high-density apartment area that is “a target for gang-related activity.”

* Where: Sepulveda Boulevard corridor (bordered by the San Diego Freeway on the west, Lassen Street on the north, Sepulveda Boulevard on the east and Roscoe Boulevard on the south)

Why: The area is “inundated with prostitution, narcotic trafficking and gang-related activity.”

West Valley Division

The LAPD identified these problem areas:

* What/where: Street robberies, rapes and homicides occurring in Canoga Park during the mid-evening concentrated along the Sherman Way corridor.

Why: The area is a Canoga Park Alabama gang stronghold that has high narcotics activity. Key robbery problem locations, according to the LAPD, are the Canoga House Motor Hotel at 7435 Winnetka Ave. (narcotics and prostitution); Runnymede Park at 20200 Runnymede St. (narcotics); and Lanark Park at 21816 Lanark St. (narcotics). The area also has a high concentration of parolees.

* What/where: Street robberies in Encino during the mid-evening, concentrated along the Ventura Boulevard corridor from White Oak Avenue on the east to Vanalden Avenue on the west.

Why: There is a concentration of low-rent apartments to the north. Also the area is close to Reseda Southside gang strongholds located to the north. Numerous businesses operating at night create a “victim-rich environment.”

* What/where: Aggravated assaults in the northern part of the West Valley in the mid-evening, particularly on Thursdays and Saturdays to the north and south of the Sherman Way corridor from Canoga Park to Reseda.

Why: The Canoga Park Alabama gang threatens Canoga Park. The area around Sherman Way and Reseda Boulevard is a hangout for the Reseda Westside and Bryant Street gangs. Also, the LAPD suggests that a number of liquor stores and bars in the area contribute to the problem.

Foothill Division

The LAPD studied the division from Jan. 1 to Nov. 30, 1993.

* Peak days for all crimes: Friday-Saturday, 11 p.m.-2 a.m.

* Peak day for homicides: Saturday, 8:50-11 p.m.

* Peak day for rapes: Saturday, 9-11 p.m.

* Peak days for robbery: Monday and Saturday, 9 p.m.-5:30 a.m.

* Peak days for aggravated assault: Saturday and Sunday, 6-11 p.m.

* Where: The Van Nuys Boulevard corridor (San Fernando Road to Foothill Boulevard) is the major source of violent crime in the division. State Department of Corrections reports 1,400 parolees residing in the Foothill Division.

Why: The high concentration of low-income housing complexes, gang and narcotic activities.

North Hollywood Division

The LAPD spotlighted two areas of special concern:

* What/where: During 1992 and 1993, the area around Lankershim Boulevard between Burbank Boulevard and Magnolia had the division’s highest number of homicides (four in 1993, two in 1992), the third highest number of rapes, the second highest number of robberies and the third highest number of aggravated assaults.

Why: The area is home to the North Hollywood Boys gang, which is responsible for a large percentage of the crime problems.

* What/where: The area east of Tujunga Avenue, west of Clybourn Avenue, north of Saticoy Avenue and south of the Southern Pacific Railroad tracks had a high number of homicides (one in 1993 but four in 1992), the fourth-highest number of aggravated assaults and the third-highest number of arrests.

Why: The area is home to the Vineland Boys gang, which is identified as being responsible for a large percentage of the crime.

* In 1993, most homicides occurred on Tuesdays around 10 p.m.

* Nearly one-fifth of the rapes happened on Fridays, and most of those happened between 10 and 11 p.m. More than half of all rape victims could name their attacker and considered the attacks “date rape.”

* In 1993, the highest number of robberies occurred on Saturdays (17.9%) between 11 p.m. and 12 a.m.

Van Nuys Division

* Nearly 30% of all crime in the division occurs around Van Nuys and Sepulveda boulevards.

Source: Los Angeles Police Department


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