Here is Jon Von Gunten’s report from our Neighborhood Watch.
Senior Lead Officer (SLO) Cesar Contreras began our content-rich Zoom meeting at 9:02AM. 32 attendees got a “two-fer” when we heard the scheduled presentation on child sex abuse from Det. Mariana Patín, then a surprise update from Valley Traffic Captain Andy Neiman!
CHILD SEX ABUSE: Det. Mariana Patín expects more reports of child sex abuse to surface as kids return to school. In 99% of cases, the perpetrator is a family member or someone known to the child. If we see suspicious behavior, Patín wants our early warnings, hopefully to prevent situations from progressing to actual physical sexual assault. Reach her at Foothill’s detective desk: ► 818-834-3115 ◄
► Our Good Samaritan instinct is to immediately confront the perp. Don’t!
Contact LAPD first, so they can begin gathering evidence and protecting the child. Evidence against a child sexual predator must be as iron-clad as possible because cases always involve conflicting testimony. Additionally, your well-intentioned “visit” will likely cause the perp to flee the jurisdiction.
►► SIGNS OF CHILD SEX ABUSE include a sudden change in a child’s behavior or avoiding a certain relative or residence. But when a young person is being deceived by a calculating predator, parents may find a strange cell phone in the child’s possession. Perps masquerade as kids the victim’s age, even a fellow student in a large school. Parents must not be timid or hesitant about requiring a look at their children’s phones at any time. LAPD visits schools to disseminate these messages.
► An attendee suggested police should time these talks immediately before school breaks. Another suggested that parents must learn which apps on their kids’ phone hide text messages in a passworded “vault,” or encrypt messages, or auto-erase them after viewing.
►► CAPTAIN ANDY NEIMAN, VALLEY TRAFFIC: 25146@LAPD.online
Capt. Neiman cited vital traffic-related improvements during 2020. Fatalities were down from 22 to 14. Severe accidents dropped from 59 to 43. However, DUIs were up 24% with a slight rise in DUI-related injuries.
► Defunding LAPD has caused Chief Michael Moore to reassign and reprioritize officers’ duties. Valley Traffic’s first priority will no longer be ticketing and enforcement! It will be investigating collisions, especially if criminal. When a serious accident occurs, traffic officers will be pulled off enforcement to apply their specialized accident investigation training to the collision.
Patrol officers will no longer handle collisions, etc. They’ll focus on cruising neighborhoods, crime prevention, responding to 911s and routine calls. Previously, patrol officers investigated 30 to 40% of vehicle accidents, pulling them off patrolling. Most police accident reports are civil matters, not criminal, and are completed to help insurance companies when drivers’ claims conflict.
Residents’ new capability to report minor crimes, collisions and hit-and-runs by an online form releases even more officer hours to patrolling.
▬► USE and SAVE THIS URL to FILE REPORTS of MINOR CRIMES:
► But we still report speeders to Traffic Officer Joel Flores at 818-644-8142 and email@example.com
► Street-racing and intersection takeovers, unlike everyday speeders, can be punished if a video of the offense is accurately time-stamped and clearly shows a license plate. Catching those drivers in the act is nearly impossible, so LAPD and courts no longer need the driver’s ID. Judges will seize the car by its plates. Racers spend mightily for vehicles, engine enhancements and speed accessories, so the threat of losing that investment could deter some of them.
► To report street racing and takeovers, rapidly email Valley Traffic Street Racing Team Supervisor, Sgt. Mark Guardado: 31222@LAPD.online If possible, include time-stamped photos or vids. But NEVER endanger yourself to take them!
► Capt. Neiman said that CD-5 (Councilman Koretz) has bought new speed-display units (not cameras) for his district that mount on streetlights.
► A knowledgeable resident emphasized that even minor crimes MUST be reported so they are logged into CompStat. Only citing these statistics will help LAPD correctly deploy officers and request larger budgets. Another resident suggested using an unarmed team to investigate collisions.
►► EVE SINCLAIR, CD7 DEPUTY, announced that CD7 has placed a similar speed-display unit on La Tuna Canyon Rd., and will place three more throughout S-T and LVT. Units contain a feature being piloted that turns the next stoplight red when a motorist speeds dangerously! Of course that red light affects those driving at normal speeds. Sinclair reports that DOT’s road safety and engineering changes have reduced injuries and deaths along La Tuna Canyon Rd.
► A mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinic will rotate through Pacoima, Sylmar and S-T to deliver 1,000 Pfizer shots/week to seniors and healthcare workers.
►► OFFICER ERIC PÉREZ oversees Foothill Station volunteers and is ramping up this effort as COVID-19 wanes. Radar teams with volunteers and LAPD’s chase cars or bikes have been very successful. Volunteers take on MANY safe tasks that free up officers for tougher jobs. Ask how you can help: Cell: (424) 364-4764
►► NEIGHBORHOOD PROSECUTOR MARK ROSS is following up on a home on Mather that has been a sty in the eye of residents. Inspectors are citing and taking action.
► Ross says the Mayor’s COVID-19 restrictions forbid police from having overnight dwellers towed. A similar moratorium blocks enforcement of a law requiring unhoused to take down tents. Will the Mayor return police powers as COVID-19 wanes? IF you see other crimes around those blights, LAPD WILL ACT on those if you have evidence.
►► In other local news, SLO Caloca said S-T’s grand theft auto (GTA) is waaay up, but overall crime is only slightly up. Protect your vehicle’s catalytic converter! There is a rash of thefts and they cost $950 to 2500 to replace. Stand by for LAPD’s educational flyer on this problem.
Stay Alert! Help your neighbors!
Very best wishes for a safe 2021,
Jon von Gunten firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council Board Rep
to LAPD’s Neighborhood Watch
Here is Jon Von Gunten’s report from our Neighborhood Watch.