L.A. mayor and police chief visit Leimert Park after flare of violence

By Kate Mather | LA Times
July 29, 2015

garcetti leimert parkTerrencé Smith smiled nervously as he plugged in his iPhone on Wednesday afternoon and hit play.

A few seconds later, the 15-year-old’s voice rang clearly through the entryway of a Leimert Park performing arts center. He hoped his audience — Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Police Chief Charlie Beck — understood the message behind his words.

“Mother, mother, answer me: Why are you crying?” Terrencé sang along with the recording, as Garcetti bobbed his head. “Brother, brother, brother, there’s far too many of you dying.”

“It’s Marvin Gaye,” Terrencé explained later, noting the legendary singer’s hit “What’s Going On.” “But it’s still relevant to everything that’s been happening.”

Amid a year of rising crime across the city and days after a series of South L.A. gang shootings left one man dead and several people wounded, Garcetti and Beck took a walk through Leimert Park on Wednesday.

They handed out baseball cards to kids, popped into businesses in the village — a historic hub of African American culture in L.A. — and talked to residents about quality-of-life issues and the new officers they would see in the area.

The Police Department recently added a foot patrol to the neighborhood, meaning officers will spend most of their time out of their cars and walking around, getting to know the area where they work.

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Officers assigned to foot beats often deal with quality-of-life issues: graffiti, illegal vending, homelessness. But a key goal, LAPD officials said, is for officers to become familiar faces in the neighborhoods and gain the trust of residents and business owners.

It’s part of a larger balancing act for LAPD: sending more elite officers into areas where major crime and gang violence is surging while also trying to foster stronger relationships with the community.

Garcetti and Beck said they had long planned to walk the new Leimert Park foot patrol. But both acknowledged the importance of reaching out to South L.A. residents after the rash of gang violence last weekend — and social media rumors that it would continue — left the community on edge.

Read more here: http://www.latimes.com/local/crime/la-me-0730-lapd-incidents-20150730-story.html

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