Rain and sleet and gloom of night are bad enough, but a pair of gangbangers are threatening mail delivery in one South Bay neighborhood.
It started last month when a gang member beat up the mailman on Route 4922 in El Camino Village, an unincorporated neighborhood between Hawthorne and Gardena. The carrier changed routes, but the same gang member and a buddy picked on his replacement, taunting, yelling and name-calling. That carrier switched routes, too--and the same thing happened to his replacement.
Things have gotten so bad on Route 4922 on and around Chadron Avenue that mail service was canceled for four days last week and resumed only after sheriff’s deputies began escorting the route’s carrier.
Tonight, sheriff’s deputies and postal officials plan to meet with residents to discuss the problem.
“Even though we live in a community where we see gangs all the time, it’s very unusual to have to take a measure like this,” said Postal Service spokesman George Marsh. “We feel we need to take this measure for the carriers and the customers.”
Los Angeles postal workers are no strangers to danger. In 1992, thefts of mail soared nationally, with the worst problems in and around Los Angeles. For a while, armed postal inspectors were sent along mail routes on the first of each month--when welfare checks were mailed--to protect the carriers who delivered them.
But Marsh said he can’t recall ever having to suspend general mail service or obtain a police escort for standard mail delivery.
Authorities say El Camino Village has neither an especially bad gang problem nor a bad reputation. It’s a community where working-class families live in single-family homes and low-slung apartment buildings. The streets are lined with shady trees and children play in the yards.
“There are good, hard-working people who live here,” said Sheriff’s Sgt. Jack Mayer, who accompanied Route 4922’s carrier by bike last week and trailed her in a patrol car Monday. “There are just a few people who come in and disrupt the place.”
On Chadron Avenue, authorities say, gang members are responsible for the graffiti that covers many of the homes and run-down apartment buildings. Gang members are often drunk and disorderly, but Mayer and his partner, Sgt. A.J. Berner, said gang violence hasn’t been a problem.
“The gangs like to make trouble over here, but otherwise it’s a pretty quiet neighborhood,” said Adam Mancilla, who manages an apartment building on Chadron. “They stole my license plate and they trespass, but that’s it. It’s not as bad now as it was six months ago.”
But another carrier, who once lived on Chadron Avenue and has filled in on Route 4922 once a week for more than two years, said the street has sharply deteriorated. Though she said she doesn’t feel threatened carrying mail on Chadron, she said she is not comfortable there, either.
“It’s the worst street I have,” she said. “I try to finish it as fast as I can.
“I feel better with the cops here. No one’s going to mess with you when they see you with the cops unless they’re out of it.”