LAPD Captain Vance M. Proctor, the new Area Commanding Officer for the West L.A. station, spoke to the Palisades Community Council last week and reassured council members that he is committed to maintaining two patrol cars in the community. The 30-plus year department veteran said, ‘This is my third time in West L.A. What a joy to come back. I understand the nature of the community and the geography and crime statistics. ‘You need two cars. When officers make an arrest they have to then drive to Van Nuys or Central, which can take them away for hours. I’m committed to keeping the second car here.’ Proctor, who lives in Ventura County and served as patrol captain in West L. A. from 1988-90, explained that he also puts a lot of emphasis on traffic enforcement, working with Captain Williams of the West Traffic Division on ‘the primary problem’speed.’ He would like to increase the number of officers who are radar-certified, which involves a one-week training. ‘The more trained officers we have, the more citations we can write’the radar gun is a very useful tool.’ Proctor said that he would like to see West L.A. have its own speed trailer. Councilmember Norm Kulla asked, ‘If we could raise funds, could we buy one?’ The trailers cost about $15,000. ‘There’s no reason why we couldn’t do that,’ said Proctor, who added it could possibly be housed in a city facility, such as a fire station. However, having community volunteers drive it into place is a potential liability issue. ‘We sent the question to the City Attorney, and are waiting for an answer,’ Proctor said. In addition to traffic, Proctor emphasized the importance of Neighborhood Watch. ‘It’s one of the best, cheapest things anyone can do in a community. It helps people know their neighbors’the person across from you, behind you, and to the right and left of you. ‘We urge people to look for activity that doesn’t fit.’ He and Senior Lead Officer Chris Ragsdale suggested taking down the license plates of suspicious cars. ‘This can help solve crimes. If a person is loitering around, and doesn’t seem to know his way around, make an inquiry, and they usually will leave.’ Proctor also took the opportunity to praise Ragsdale. ‘I’m the captain, but he’s the chief of Pacific Palisades.’ Overall, Proctor said the police force should ideally be increased to 15,000 from the current 9,600. He also stated that crime in L.A. decreased rather significantly last year, by 20 percent. ‘We are focusing on gang members and repeat offenders and this has paid off.’ He emphasized that West L.A. in general and the Palisades specifically is a safe community. He also talked about some of the successful police programs’including the volunteer surveillance team, which is starting up again in West L.A. Volunteer recruits help with surveillance in secure locations with police backup. Another program is PACT, a nonprofit organization which raises money for needed police equipment. He also praised Bratton’s program, COMPSTAT’a computer-based technology that gives the LAPD’s management team the ability to identify, track and define issues pertaining to crime in ‘real time.’ This system provides a wealth of data and allows the Department to make the most efficient use of limited personnel resources by rapidly deploying officers to the areas when and where they are most needed. ‘The captain gets questions about what he’s doing about crime. It’s not a very pleasant experience, but it keeps you sharp as a tack,’ Proctor said. When asked about the response time to police calls, Proctor said, ‘Traditionally, West L.A. has one of the worst records [because of the geography of the area]’we average a little over 10 minutes. West L.A. currently has 244 sworn officers, 155 of which are on patrol.’ He also noted that LAPD is under a five-year federal consent decree, which mandates that the department be audited in many areas, requiring additional resources. ‘When it ends in two years, we can take some of those resources, and get them back into the field.’ Council president George Wolfberg asked Proctor about using a webcam to deter crime. Proctor responded that he had used cameras in the Devonshire Division with graffiti problems and they had been effective. Council president emeritus Harry Sondheim asked about 911 calls from cell phones which go to a central CHP location instead of the LAPD dispatch center. Ragsdale suggested that people program the local police department phone number into their cell phone also (West L.A. station is 575-8401) and in addition to 911, call the police station if necessary. ‘Let them know you have an emergency,’ he said. For non-emergency situations, Ragsdale recommended calling the LAPD non-emergency phone number of 877-275-5273. He is available on his cell phone, 622-3980, but encourages people to call the non-emergency line also in case he is off-duty.
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