Opinion: The Disappointing Passivity of WeHo’s Public Safety Commission

I’d like to urge WeHo to defund the police and reallocate funds within our community.

In looking back through the Public Safety Commission agenda packets this year, I notice that the Commission meetings for April, May and June were cancelled, and that in the agenda packets for July and August, the Commission’s only “new business,” aside from hearing reports from the various agencies, was electing chairs. The nationwide protests spurred by George Floyd’s death began in late May — and this Commission has failed to put forth almost any new ideas about reconfiguring policing in WeHo since then, despite rampant calls from the community.

In the one meeting that I’ve attended thus far, I heard unhoused people described as blights on our streets, as opposed to fellow human beings deserving of compassion and aid. I heard a breakdown of communication between the Commission and the City Council. More than anything, I heard an abdication of responsibility.

According to the Municipal Code outlining the duties of the Public Safety Commission, this group is intended to, among other things, quote, “establish and maintain communication with citizens relative to public safety.” In practice, it seems like the function of the group is to hear reports from law enforcement. As a citizen of WeHo, I’m disappointed by this passivity.

One promising idea I can recollect hearing in the last meeting was the notion of removing law enforcement from our homelessness outreach, in the spirit of a program like CAHOOTS (Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets). This excellent idea seemed to be, at best, misunderstood by several members of the committee, and at worse, barely given consideration.

If I may, I’d like to offer a few basic ideas. I’d first suggest that this Commission look to alternate sources beyond the monthly law enforcement reports to get a grasp on the current state of policing. These reports are inherently biased, as they’re issued under the LASD banner. I’d also recommend the Public Safety Commission work in conjunction with the City Council and other Commissions to figure out what the exact purview of your body is. What do you feel your purpose is as a Commission? And do you feel that you’re fulfilling it?

On a minor note, it’d be helpful if the Commission was livestreamed on YouTube the same way the Council meetings are; this would make the meetings far more accessible, especially to people of my generation. More generally speaking, I’d like you, the Commissioners, to stop using your personal experiences as stand-in data for the broader populace, especially since the majority of this Commission appears to be white.

Additionally, it’d be great to see the Commission reach out directly to other cities that have found ways to reallocate money away from policing and learn from their strategies. You might also contact L.A.-based organizations who could offer more insight on practical measures that could be useful in reducing the presence of law enforcement. Such organizations might include BLM LA, LA CAN, Street Watch LA, Youth Justice Coalition and NLG LA.

I look forward to seeing this Commission find a way to be more active within our community. Thank you.

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Manny
Manny
3 months ago

I encourage Ms Solomon to contact and correspond with city representatives so that she may better understanding how West Hollywood has become a model for effective social services and public safety.

Compared to other small cities, most not being resort and nightlife destinations, I think she’ll be pleasantly surprised as to how much West Hollywood does and how well it performs.

Steve Martin
Steve Martin
3 months ago

Defunding has become a divisive term that does not serve the real need to reform; in fact, as Remy as pointed out, it allows our civic institutions to ignore or defer the need for genuine oversight of local law enforcement. But her call for us to look at how we police and if it is cost effective is right on. We need to do an audit to see why we need five or six Sheriff’s vehicles to response to a call of a homeless person passed out on the side walk? Why is there still a large Sheriff’s presence after… Read more »

Larry Block
Larry Block
3 months ago

The author needs to understand we are a general law city and not a contract city. In this regard we already have defunded the police. Our contract for services with the sheriff and with the block by block outreach are two separate contracts. The sheriff provides the basic services and various other organizations are separately funded from the homeless outreach team to the security ambassadors and so much more. Larger cities with large broad budgets need to de-fund to get to the specialized outreach and funding we already utilize as part of our public safety initiatives. That being said I… Read more »

Alan Strasburg
Alan Strasburg
3 months ago

WeHo commissioners are by and large as imperious, provincial and parochial as most of the West Hollywood Student Council. There are a few who ask tough questions, and those who do are shunned as “difficult” and misogynistic antics of ego attempt to quash such voices (Planning Commission?) Mostly, however, they are mere window dressing and opportunities to burnish credentials in an incestuous pool where there is no independence of thought or critique or analysis. What’s needed are fresh and outside voices of people who are not sycophants to anyone and we need to stop treating the commissions as a farm… Read more »

Joshua88
Joshua88
3 months ago

Interesting comments, to say the least.

Good ideas from Ms Solomon.

To JF1: Your comment leads me to believe you haven’t watched or heard a drop of news since May 25th, or you narrowed your sources.

David Reid
3 months ago

A WHPD was almost a reality. Perhaps time for history to repeat. Now with the budget shortfall it is not as viable. But then neither is the nearly 1/4 billion dollar park.
https://www.wehoville.com/2018/06/25/look-back-divisive-gay-campaign-west-hollywood-police-force/

Ham Shipey
Ham Shipey
3 months ago

This is a ridiculous position to take. We need MORE police.

JF1
JF1
3 months ago
Reply to  Ham Shipey

Yes! We have enough crap that goes on now around our city. Can you imagine if we had less policing?! Cities are in for another wave of decline. Such a shame.

carleton cronin
3 months ago

Redefining Public Safety! Love it! Wonderfully expansive view of what a city needs to “protect and serve.” However, de-funding police is not in our best interests. Getting what we need and want from the police should guide our actions. Also, more citizen involvement via WATCH and CERT.

Jim Nasium
Jim Nasium
3 months ago

I’m not counting on Mrs Kravitz for protection. All “WATCH” and “CERT” do is call the police. Just as I would if I needed protection from a lunatic. More police around is better, not less.

JF1
JF1
3 months ago
Reply to  Jim Nasium

Yup. More policing…less crime.

carleton cronin
3 months ago
Reply to  Jim Nasium

WATCH, when functional, are more eyes on the block and they are supposed to call the police when they see possible criminal activity. In many cities it is a valuable adjunct to the occasional police drive-by. CERT – Community Emergency Response Team – is composed of trained citizens who react to assist fire and police in times of disaster. The city used to be much more active with these two groups.

Jim Nasium
Jim Nasium
3 months ago

We already have Neighborhood Watch and CERT. All they do is call the police. So, there’s nothing new to “redefine”. More cops would be nice tho, since Neighborhood Watch is often told that the cops are “busy on Sunset”.

WehoFan
WehoFan
3 months ago

Remy Solomon please grow up. You haven’t lived enough life yet to understand the devastating consequences that would arise from your woke ideas about policing.

JF1
JF1
3 months ago
Reply to  WehoFan

Amen.

Danielle Harris
Danielle Harris
3 months ago

Don’t get your hopes up for any substantive change as most of the city commissions are window dressing filled with political appointees and no real power.

JF1
JF1
3 months ago

Your “unhoused people” are predominantly drug addicts, alcoholics and people with mental illness. They need to be provided treatment in a facility. Letting them live in their own filth in our parks and on our streets is a blight on our community and it does nothing to help them. We have compassion. But we also have connected brain cells and we realize our “leaders” are not doing enough to help change the laws so these individuals that so desperately in need of help can be given it. As far as defunding the police-it’s not our police that need “reconfiguring” its… Read more »

Margot Carlson
Margot Carlson
3 months ago
Reply to  JF1

Remy, this is well-said and to the point. This Public Safety Commission need to start acting like they care about what the public is asking for. Our unhoused neighbors are not inherently criminals and should not be punished by the police (having their possessions thrown away and their tents destroyed, etc.) just because the city will not provide them access to much-needed social services that would help them get off the streets. The police serve the white and wealthy members of this city at the expense of everyone else, and WeHo needs to hold them accountable for how they treat… Read more »