Capt. Holly Perez, the new head of the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station, emphasized the importance of her and her officers engaging with the city’s residents in a community meeting yesterday.
Perez spoke and fielded questions from local residents at “Coffee with the Captain,” an event organized at the City Council Chambers by Mayor Lindsey Horvath, who had questions of her own.
Since Perez assumed the position about six weeks ago, a number of community leaders have responded positively to her, noting her engaging personality and accessibility. Perez replaced Capt. Gary Honings, who retired. Perez has done “walk arounds” in the community and showed up at events such as the Elton John concert at the Tower Records lot.
Perez said she responds to residents who email her about crime issues, letting them know that their message has been forwarded to the appropriate person to follow up on the issue. She also is sitting down with each of her subordinates at the sheriff’s station for a one-on-one conversation so that she can learn who they are. Perez said she thinks that approach will inspire deputies to be more open to local residents.
“I think when people know that you care about them they are going to care about the community they serve,” she said.
In response to questions from Horvath and area residents at the meeting, Perez also mentioned specific areas she is looking at or problems she wants to address.
One is public intoxication. Perez said that is a likely factor in the rash of assaults and several rapes in the city’s Boystown nightlife area in the past year. “One thing we have found is a lot of these assaults are happening when people can’t take care of themselves,” she said.
Perez said deputies have reached out to local bar owners to caution them about serving alcohol to intoxicated patrons.
Perez said she hopes to address the city’s issue with homeless people in the way she did at other assignments, such as her most recent one at the parks bureau. There she partnered with the Veterans Administration, the Red Cross and COPS, the Sheriff’s Department’s community policing operation, to help provide longer-term assistance to homeless people
Car burglaries, responsible for a large number of serious crimes in the city, are another issue. Perez said the solution there is to education people not to leave valuable belongings in their cars.
Perez said she also is increasing emphasis on foot patrols. “At first I got a little resistance to it,” she said. ” … The deputies had forgotten how important it is to engage with the community. As Spring arrives, Perez said she wants to get more deputies on the street on bicycles.
Perez said the station also is working on ways to get information to the public more quickly about crimes to raise public awareness about safety issues. And she voiced her support for video cameras in public areas, which she said would deter criminals as well as help deputies find and arrest them.
Finally, Perez shared some information about herself, including her love for horseback riding and the story of Lucy, her five-year-old red setter. Lucy, who has a pacemaker to help with her heart problems, will be a regular at the Sheriff’s Station.