Archive for the ‘Baltimore’ Category

“LAPD”

As of March 7, 2011, Baltimore ranks 29 on a list of most dangerous cities in America. L.A. does not even make the top 100. For a city with a population of roughly 4 million, it seems contrary to reason that L.A. should not be further up on the list, despite a large disparity between L.A. and Baltimore’s population size. What is L.A. doing right? A simple skim of the LAPD website proved one thing L.A. is doing that Baltimore is not: community involvement. Does the community have the power to make a significant dent in crime?

They are untrained, uninformed, and unarmed, yet they are fighting crime right alongside the police. There are fifteen ways to volunteer with the police in L.A. In Baltimore, you can apply to be an officer, but you cannot hope to extend your helping hand unofficially.

The normally tight-lipped police are warming up to public attention in L.A. Going above and beyond presenting weekly or monthly crime stats, the LAPD has community pages with  steady streams of news, along with the names and photos of the officers in charge in that community. To top that, in case you didn’t know which community encompasses your little neighborhood, you can peruse an alphabetical list of neighborhoods, just shy of 200.

However, it is one thing to keep up with the crime, and another to prevent it. The LAPD has taken a more proactive approach to informing the public about crime: they let them contribute to the investigation. As involvement moves from neighborhood watches  to civilian jobs in the police department, the line is becoming blurred between civilian and cop. Civilians are looking like caped crusaders, running around anonymously and fighting crime. They get the benefit of being do-gooders without the risk of an identifying badge.

One fascinating example is the system of “e-policing”. The website description is as follows: “you will receive emails from your senior lead officer (SLO), who is your liaison with the LAPD.” Anyone who’s ever followed a tv crime drama must be screaming with joy. They get a chance to actually partner with the police on important investigations.

Further evidence of this is the “Solve a Crime” section, in which a list of unsolved cases is posted, complete with any video surveillence of the crime has been collected that the police feel would aid in the investigation. Civilians can review the case and contact the lead detective with information.

If that isn’t enough, civilians can become official–without the badge. There are over 100 civilian job classificiations, including collecting and analyzing evidence, answering 911 calls, supervising jails, and assisting in surveillance.

One thing Baltimore has caught on to, however, is Nixle. Nixle is “a professional-grade mass communication system allowing the LAPD to communicate directly with a geographically specific portion of community”. The information is transferred across a “secure, standardized platform”, so it is safe for all to use. With programs like Nixle, the community can keep an ongoing dialogue with the police department. The speed of information is better than just waiting for your local tv station to report the news.

The good news is, crime is dropping in almost every city, albeit unevenly. An article from The Baltimore Sun reveals that the city is in good company: “Baltimore’s drop in crime mirrors a nationwide trend…some [cities] are at four-decade lows. That has kept Baltimore, despite its strides, near the top of lists that rank violent crimes.”

L.A. is one such city that has had a drop large enough to significantly overshadow Baltimore.  As of Jan. 2010, “officials say that “in spite of budget cuts and an understaffed police force, L.A.’s crime  rate reached a 50-year low.” This is a trend that has been going on for some time. In 2006, L.A. already held a dramatic advantage over Baltimore. In comparative crime ratios per 100,000 people, Baltimore led in every category, and beat the national average in all but rape.

If the LAPD is “understaffed” as mentioned above, how is it comprehensible that L.A. can maintain this advantage, as well as improve upon its overall crime rate? Perhaps it is not as understaffed as it seems. Volunteers from every L.A. community are contributing to the crime-fighting efforts. The programs already touched on just scratch the surface. There are even more ways to get involved, including internship opportunities with local universities, teen programs, community events, and gang injunctions (a community effort of preventative violence by way of stopping gangs before they strike).

It may be time to retire the police excuse, “Let us do our job” and let communities do their jobs of bringing justice. After all, who cares more about what goes on in a city than the people who live there? They’ll see to it that the job gets done.

For more information on the opportunities at the Los Angeles Police Department, visit: http://www.lapdonline.org/

Sources:

http://www.lapdonline.org/

http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/news/crime/blog/2010/12/baltimore_saw_crime_declines_a.html

http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/story?section=news/local/los_angeles&id=7204706

http://www.baltimorepolice.org/

http://www.neighborhoodscout.com/neighborhoods/crime-rates/top100dangerous/

http://www.areaconnect.com/crime/compare.htm?c1=baltimore&s1=MD&c2=los+angeles&s2=CA