Edward Ramirez, New WeHo’s Sheriff’s Captain, Outlines His Plans at Plummer Park

Capt. Edward Ramirez (in uniform) surrounded by Eastside residents at Plummer Park. (Photo by Cathy Blaivas)

Capt. Edward Ramirez, newly named head of the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station, met with more than three dozen people at Plummer Park today to outline his approach to community policing and address specific issues of the city’s Eastside.

Ramirez is the latest in what has been a revolving door of captains supervising the local Sheriff’s Station, with several being quickly promoted and moved elsewhere. He is the successor to Sergio Aloma, who served 17 months before being promoted to commander and assigned elsewhere. Aloma succeeded Holly Perez, a very popular captain who was promoted to commander and moved from West Hollywood after only 12 months here. The short tenures have prompted complaints from local residents and from City Councilmember John d’Amico.

In his opening comments at the event, organized by Tod Hallman of Eastside WeHo Neighborhood Watch, Ramirez acknowledged that the position as captain of the West Hollywood Sheriff’s station is high profile and usually a jumping-off point for promotions.  And he noted that he is the fifth captain of the station in four years. “Would I invest in a company that had five CEOs in four years?” Ramirez said in an acknowledgment of the community’s concerns.

Ramirez said he is open to finding new solutions to old issues facing the community. “I’m happy to think outside, even remove, the box if it’s not immoral, illegal or going to land me on the front page. Let’s try it,” he said.

Ramirez discussed changing deputy deployment levels based on current needs, rather than “structure a plan for life. Putting bodies where they need to be, not just on Santa Monica Boulevard.”

He said he wants deputies on patrol to drive slower and safely and engage in the local culture, “with a more assertive stop and check it out approach.”

“I don’t want criminals to feel comfortable coming into our neighborhood,” Ramirez said.

He told the story of a deputy in one patrol car pulling over two people who were circling the neighborhood where The Abbey is located on Robertson Boulevard. “One with dreadlocks and the other a shaved head, they fit the description of suspects,” was their reasoning, Ramirez said. But it turned out that nearby parking lots were full and they were just circling around looking for parking. Ramirez said the deputies apologized, explained, helped them find parking and, on foot, walked them over to The Abbey.”

Responding to concerns about turnover in the captain’s position, Ramirez said: “I want to create some stability; I’m not looking to promote out. I’m happy to stay in WeHo for the rest of my life.” But, acknowledging the possibility of change, he said: “I want to set us up for six to eight years.” Now, he said, “morale is at an all-time high at the station.”

Eastside residents asked for greater law enforcement presence in their neighborhood. Residents Cathy Blaivis and Stephanie Harker talked of drug activity — shooting up, smoking crack — and prostitution in broad daylight in Plummer Park. They said drug dealers were extorting money from homeless people who wanted to use the bathrooms at Plummer Park and suggested undercover officers as a possible solution.

Several residents raised questions about safety on La Brea Avenue. “I live in a beautiful building, but I feel unsafe walking,” Richard Maggio said. “I’ve been assaulted three times in the past year, once thrown to the ground.”

Ramirez was questioned by some residents about what they saw as dismissive responses from the bicycle security ambassadors and the possibility of having them patrol the streets on foot rather on bike, which he said he would consider.

Addressing concerns about homelessness, Ramirez said law enforcement had to balance “quality of life for people who live work and play in West Hollywood along with the civil rights of the homeless. We offer assistance first and over and over.”

However, he said. “we will arrest our way out of the problem if we have to.” Ramirez noted the tent encampments he sees in Hollywood on his drive home to Pasadena. “Tent cities in West Hollywood are against the law,” he said. “You won’t see them in West Hollywood!”

Ramirez also confirmed that a Sheriff’s substation would be opening on the city’s Eastside, located on Santa Monica Boulevard near Martel, fulfilling a longtime request from Eastside residents. “I’ve seen the space; it will be identified with signage and there will be patrol cars parked outside.”

  1. In case it isn’t clear, the new sheriff I am referring to is the newly elected LA County Sheriff, not the one assigned to WeHo.

  2. I’ve been mostly content about the Sheriff’s Dept in my interactions. The idea of setting up our own PD is hopelessly naive – we’d have to staff mostly from scratch, have stand alone costs that a combined unit don’t have, lose an enormous amount of institutional knowledge. Nice idea if practical, but not remotely plausible.
    But this article misses the elephant in the room. The LATimes has the latest in a number of articles about the enormous concern about the newly elected Sheriff. He is totally dismantling all recent reforms, restoring fired deputies, looking to eliminate oversight and basically protect the bad cops in his department. The article is about the contracted cities and their concerns, including a quote from John Heilmann. This issue to my knowledge has had zero coverage in Wehoville, but it is extremely important. Not having any reference is a major oversight. Please make up for this missed opportunity.

  3. I’ve said for years, as our little WeHo has grown, the Sheriff department has to stop being so passive about their protecting us. They seem to only respond, when they deem appropropriate or when they aren’t on stand by for Los Angeles tactical response. So much more would be accomplished if they got out of their cars and walked our streets! I’ve lived here almost 25 years and feel less safe than I ever have. I watch the sheriff’s roll right on past situations that they should stop at, I see them flip on their lights to run a red light only to turn them off again on the other side of intersection, I see Sheriff’s ambivalence about actually fighting crime. We need our own police department that isn’t ashamed to cruise around in vehicles with the rainbow outline of our city and is willing to reduce crime by being present. We all see the lack of commitment to have a top cop longer than 24 months. How does this build relationships with the community and the department? Who pays the price, the citizens do. Turn over is incredibly bad for morale, especially when the morale carry guns.

    1. I agree with you…I have lived here 20+years and always felt safe. Not anymore. There’s too many crazy, drugged out people roaming around, bodies all over our sidewalks, in our parks, at our bus tops, in our libraries and parks. The last five years or so things have gotten really bad. We have to start enforcing our laws…even on the homeless. They don’t get a pass because they have issues. We all do.

  4. Here’s an idea……..get rid of the homeless drug addicts. The park is useless to us presently. The Police here are far too passive. And these kids riding around on bikes (ambassadors) are solving nothing.

    Cities need parks……but in WEHO they aren’t for the law abiding citizens.

  5. We cannot rely entirely on the police to protect our daily well being. Citizens have the responsibility to be involved in addressing problems. We have the right to demand action but we must also be a part of the action by refusing to simply be observers. Join a WATCH group. Request a ride-along and let a deputy know your concerns. Press the sheriff to act on certain situations through demands to your City Council. Act as though you understand your role in our community. This city came into existence through the concerted efforts of people of vision. Keep the vision alive and prod and demand results. An unfortunate situation at LASD is its leader, Villanueva. We must be certain that his influence does not affect our city. We do not need re-cycled deputies here to add to our problems.

    We need to see foot patrols in some areas where there is high density pedestrian traffic. We need sworn officers on bikes, not security guards, patroling resdential areas. We need citizen involvement more than ever. There will be no changes unless WE make them.

  6. Easiest and most effective solution to Plummer park homeless – crime issue… Get rid of the lockable private bathrooms. The end. Duh.

  7. Change starts locally. Rather than having our City Council members weighing in on national and international issues, the focus would be most worthwhile in our own community. “The time to do something is when you think of it”. Wise words of advice when a problem is encountered. Issues don’t solve themselves.

    The WH Sheriff’s Department appears to be a strange breed. It would seem to be a sabbatical assignment of sorts without any real responsibility in real time. With the exception of one lieutenant that was dedicated and effective, part of the COPS team that unfortunately moved on, they do not appear to be a results oriented enterprise nor do they appear to have a strategy.

    This is a small community where a dedicated effort could be achievable. Unfortunately we have a revolving door.

  8. Rules must be tough/enforced on everyone, including the homeless! I used to enjoy walking on Santa Monica between La Cienega and Doheney, now I just stay at home. The homeless that I encounter are not just down on their luck, but either addicts or mentality ill. Sad that society allows them to live on the streets. They needs to be a statewide effort to FORCE them into rehabilitation and/or institutions. They don’t need low income housing in the middle of some of the most expensive land in the state (WeHo), but let’s invest and build places where money goes a little further!!!

  9. I have said since the beginning of this city, we should have had our OWN PD, as was PROMISED!
    The Captain position should be required to serve a min. of 5 years.
    Capt. Ramirez makes a few good points but the money is in the action.

    1. I agree about having our own PD. When was this last considered in regards to what the city is saving on contracting with Sheriff’s?

      Speaking of contracting out, I frequent both Weho and Beverly Hills Parks, and the differences can be quite stark. Not saying the security guards at Weho do a poor job, but I’ve liked what I’ve seen from the Park Rangers in Beverly Hills in terms of service, homeless engagement, etc. I’d like to see that be considered in Weho.

      Contracting out every service imaginable may be efficient but not always effective.

  10. stopping to engage in the culture should include TICKETING people riding scooters on sidewalks and TICKETING people with their dog off leash. we see these offenses constantly – often as sheriff vehicles pass by them – but never see people being ticketed.

  11. I’ll believe it when I see it. Not to be cynical but I’ve lived in West Hollywood since 1985 and our problems have only gotten worse on the Eastside. Every Captain comes in and says something similar. I hope this Captain is the real deal.

    1. The problems are just as bad on the westside. My husband and I used to enjoy walking the blvd in the evenings..now we avoid it at all cost. We choose instead to walk west into Beverly Hills as it is not often you run into drug addicts and people with mental illness jumping in your face, their sidewalks are cleaner (no vomit) and there are plenty of nice restaurants. It’s a shame to see what has happened to West Hollywood over the last five years or so. Just gets worse.

  12. This is the best news I have read on Wehoville in a long time. I’m so glad the new Captain is making improvements. Public safety should be the very first concern and it looks like we are finally rounding the curve. I have been begging the City and Council for years for a substation on the east side. I like all his other ideas too.

  13. Captain Ramirez could start by perhaps camping out in an unmarked vehicle in Plumber Park parking lot. Last summer I had an unprovoked incident in the daytime while attending a city seminar. An absolutely normal looking young woman apparently living in her car freaked out when I calmly asked her if she could move as she was taking up two spaces. Thinking ahead, declined to park next to her, waited until I found a space elsewhere on the other side to avoid having my car keyed or worse. Mentioned it to the security guard who was disengaged. A bit startling but always try to be vigilant to avoid an issue.

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