Town Hall Addresses LCF’s Safety Concerns

Political leaders, law enforcement and concerned residents held a Public Safety Town Hall meeting on Monday night at Lanterman Auditorium to address the recent uptick in local residential burglaries as well as the possible effects of newly passed criminal justice legislation.
Mayor Michael Davitt presided over the meeting, welcoming a range of speakers, including Terrance Manning, chair of the Public Safety Commission, who made a plea to residents for cooperation and vigilance: “Times have changed and law enforcement can’t do the job alone anymore.”
Eric Parra, chief of the L.A. County Sheriff Department’s East Patrol Division, assured those in attendance of his ongoing commitment to provide the assets and resources necessary to keep the community safe and Chris Blasnek, captain of the Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station, explained that in contrast with the crime uptick in the last two months of 2017, the year actually reported the second fewest Part 1 crimes reported in La Cañada Flintridge since 1996.
Blasnek also enumerated recent law enforcement successes, including arrests by the burglary task force as well as the apprehension of regional crime rings.
There also was discussion about the effects of recent legislation on the rate of burglaries.
Michele Hanisee, president of the Deputy District Attorneys’ Association, detailed how Assembly Bill 109 transferred responsibility for housing and supervision of convicted felons from state prisons to county jails. She said Prop. 47 eliminated DNA collection and de-incentivized reporting and arresting, pointing to the language of Prop. 57, which she said classified offenders of domestic violence, hate crimes and human trafficking as “non-violent” offenders, thereby paving their way for early release.
Monrovia’s City Manager Oliver Chi, who heads the “Taking Back Our Community” coalition, alleged that these new laws have exacerbated the crime problem.
“We have fewer tools for deterrence,” he said, noting that criminals are using technology to organize crime rings and exploit legal loopholes.
Chi conceded that in the past “perhaps the pendulum swung too far toward the law and order side … but in our opinion, it has now swung too far to the other side.”
State Sen. Anthony Portantino, a LCF resident, lauded the passage of Prop. 54, requiring bills to be available in print for three days before being enforced, which he claimed was a necessary response to the failures of AB 109.
“California has the highest recidivism rate in the world,” Portantino said. “You can’t have a sustainable system where seven out of 10 released prisoners go back.” Portantino also advocated for SB 266, which would require anyone convicted of burglary to wear a GPS-monitored tracker.
Stephanie English, justice deputy for Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, explained that the “Taking Back Our Community” Coalition was announced in response to the murders of a police officer in Whittier and a security guard in Sylmar, both perpetrated by criminals released under the provisions of AB 109.
“The county spends hundreds of millions of dollars on services for felons,” she said. “We need to figure out what is and isn’t working and how better to spend that money.”
L.A. County Sheriff’s Deputy Eric Matejka played a video that listed big and small ways residents can make themselves and their properties safer. He explained that alarm systems have consistently caused less loss of property during burglaries, and asked those with home security systems to program them to automatically call the police, allowing for a faster response time.
During a question-and-answer session with the panel of speakers, audience members asked whether LCF ought to revisit placing cameras at intersections and entrances and exits to the city and whether there also has been an increase in commercial burglaries.
After many concerns were addressed, attendees left town hall, hopefully with a reinforced peace of mind.

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