CHINATOWN : Volunteers Kick Off Anti-Crime Patrol
A new volunteer patrol was launched in Chinatown Saturday night in an effort to make the streets safer for residents and visitors.
Equipped with flashlights, walkie-talkies and a mobile phone, the volunteers will be making rounds through Chinatown once a week, looking out for criminal activity.
Most of the 17 volunteers live or work in the area and have seen Chinatown, once a booming entertainment and cultural center, decline as gangs, panhandling, car break-ins and purse snatchings have increased.
The Chinatown Public Safety Assn. wants to change that. The group hopes the patrol gives neighbors and business owners a sense of security.
Volunteer Henry Leong, owner of the Quon Yick Noodle factory, has lived in the area all his life. He wants to see Chinatown restored to its illustrious past, when it was the focal point of Chinese culture.
“Once people have more of a feeling of being safe, we’ll be able to draw more people and tourists,” Leong, 43, said.
The volunteer group was modeled after a similar program in nearby Little Tokyo. The patrols have helped create a cleaner, friendlier and more attractive community, said Bonnie Louie of the Chinatown group.
The Los Angeles Police Department provides training and guidance and will incorporate approved, active patrol members into the department’s volunteer program.
Juan Ayala, 28, who works at a Downtown law firm, hopes the patrol will bring more people to the community. “Once the sun goes down, there’s no one there. It’s like a ghost town. Hopefully with the patrol, more people will come out,” Ayala said.
Volunteers will wear green shirts and jackets with “Chinatown Public Safety Patrol” on the front and back, and travel in groups of three or more.
Eventually an observation team, equipped with binoculars and radios, will be added.
For information on how to donate equipment or become a volunteer, call (213) 621-2344.