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LOS ANGELES : Alarcon Seeks Special Patrols for ‘Ghost Towns’

Reacting to complaints that unarmed guards hired by the city cannot protect San Fernando Valley “ghost towns"--apartment buildings left vacant by quake damage--Councilman Richard Alarcon called Wednesday for special police patrols to rid the buildings of drug dealers, gang members and vandals.

In a letter faxed late Wednesday to Los Angeles Police Chief Willie L. Williams, Alarcon also asked the department to take an official position on using federal disaster relief funds to hire armed guards. The patrols are currently unarmed, partly because local police officials have warned that hiring guards with guns could lead to violent confrontations and subsequent lawsuits against the city.

A LAPD spokesman said Williams was not prepared to comment on Alarcon’s request. But police officials in the San Fernando Valley said they will recommend that Williams reject Alarcon’s request. The matter is scheduled to be discussed by the city’s Ad Hoc Earthquake Committee on Sept. 13.


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