Hoping to settle concerns about emerging problems in the area and create a more visible presence, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) is stepping up patrol at Venice Beach and in neighboring areas.
Capt. Joseph Hiltner, the commanding officer of the LAPD Pacific Division, has announced that police are beefing up patrols along Ocean Front Walk, also known as the Venice Boardwalk, and neighboring areas to enhance public safety and allow officers to combat emerging problems and crime patterns there.
The increased police presence at Venice Beach comes after recent incidents of crime have occurred near the Boardwalk, including a 25-year-old man who was found dead in the 900 block of Ocean Front Walk March 10th. The man, who appeared to be a transient, was found partially buried in the sand and police believe he was the victim of a homicide.
“We will be working very closely with the council office and the community in a cooperative effort to identify and solve problems,” Hiltner said. “We are firmly committed to community policing.”
Under the new patrol plan, an increased number of officers will be deployed to the beach on weekends. Officers’ shifts will be adjusted to allow more officers to patrol the beach after dark and through the night and the LAPD will enforce a “zero tolerance” policy towards infractions and misdemeanor offenses.
The LAPD, which made the new Venice Beach assignments at the request of City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, is also planning to respond to increased attendance and activity at the highly popular tourist attraction as the spring season gets under way.
Hiltner said the department’s Venice Beach detail typically is increased dramatically during the summer months but there will begin to be a significant increase in patrol within two weeks.
“We want to set a tone early in the season that Venice Beach is going to be safe for everyone who lives and visits there,” Hiltner said.
Rosendahl lauded the efforts of the LAPD to enhance public safety and address neighborhood concerns about emerging problems.
“I am very grateful that the LAPD, from the top brass to the officer walking the beat, is so committed to respecting and working with the community,” Rosendahl said. “As a major tourist attraction, as a recreational center and as a residential area, Venice Beach is a unique neighborhood with its own set of challenges. I am glad to see LAPD willing to demonstrate the flexibility and the foresight to deal with those challenges.”
Linda Lucks, former chair of the Venice Neighborhood Council Ocean Front Walk Committee, said the stepped up police patrol is “long overdue.”
“I’m very happy they’re finally understanding the significance of having more police protection on Ocean Front Walk,” said Lucks, the Neighborhood Council vice president. “I absolutely applaud the effort to do this.”
Lucks noted that while the homicide earlier this month may have precipitated the police action, residents had been approaching law enforcement and Rosendahl’s office about the need for increased patrol prior to the incident.
“There has been an ongoing campaign to let the council office know of the need,” Lucks said.
Victor Jauregui, director of the Venice Beach Recreation Center, also said that community members had previously been requesting additional police presence at the Boardwalk but the recent homicide appeared to be the “final straw.”
“It’s always good to have additional patrol but unfortunately it came about with the last few incidents,” Jauregui said. “I think it’s going to put everyone at ease and make the businesses and residents feel safer.”
The staff at the Venice Beach Recreation Center have been getting a lot of feedback from the public about the need for more officers and have informed the police department, he said.
As part of the patrol plan, LAPD special task forces will work with patrol officers and senior lead officers to address resident concerns about any emerging problems in the area. Police plan to work overtime details to target those problems and will step up cooperative efforts with social service agencies to help steer homeless people at the beach into shelters.
Lucks expressed confidence that the new plan will help maintain Venice Beach as a safe destination for residents and visitors throughout the year.
“Venice Beach is the face of L.A. and it needs to be maintained for the beauty that it is,” Lucks said.