LASD sponsors safe day in Compton
COMPTON—The Los Angeles County Sheriff ’s Department continued its commitment to neighborhood involvement on Wednesday, March 21, as Compton Station hosted a safe day meeting at Walter R. Tucker Park.
Residents enjoyed hamburgers and hot dogs, while receiving welcome news about home invasions and murders in the Hub City.
Approximately six home invasions have occurred in Compton since January.
“We got the information out, and no invasions have occurred since then,” said LASD Deputy Rafer Owens. “Compton Station is aggressively pursuing this matter and we are close to making arrests.”
Owens said the key to reducing home invasions includes community members watching out for each other and properly safeguarding your home.
“The suspects look for easy targets,” he said. “Improper lighting, windows without bars, and ornate glass doors are invitations.”
Owens suggested proactive solutions like installing bars over windows, motion detector lighting and leaving the porch light on while residents are awake to deter crime.
“Well-trimmed shrubs make a big difference when we patrol,” he said. “That helps us see what is going on, and criminals have a hard time hiding behind them.”
Communication between neighbors keeps everyone safe, Owens said, and a phone tree, email tree and Facebook page for the street keeps everyone on the same page.
“Watching out for each other deters crime,” he said. “If you need help with new technology ask your children and grandchildren to get involved and teach you.”
The best way to dial 911 is with a land line, but if a cell phone is the only thing available, a call to Compton Station brings help sooner.
“If you call 911 with your cell phone the California Highway Patrol answers,” Owens said. “They will have to find out where you are, look up our number, and then transfer you to our dispatch. Put 310-605-6500 in your phone. That number goes directly to our dispatch.”
When the need to call arises, yelling for help accomplishes nothing.
“The pertinent information for dispatch is your location, what is wrong, what the criminals look like and what they are doing,” Owens said. “Once dispatch has that information we can send cars to your location.”
Practice makes perfect, he said, and residents should be comfortable when calling for help.
“You can only do what you are trained to do,” Owens said. “Pulling up an emergency number should be second nature.”
If confronted by a home invader, he advised residents to be witnesses instead of heroes.
“Remember that it is just stuff,” Owens said. “We need the invaders’ height, if they speak with an accent, stutter, or talk fast. That information makes a difference during the investigation.”
Murders in the Hub City are also down.
“There have been shootings, but only one person has died this year,” he said. “Four other murders occurred in the Compton Station area, but they are outside the city limits.”
The key to making community partnerships work, Owens said, is open dialogue.
“One of our goals as a sheriff ’s department is getting everyone involved in block clubs because it gives you a voice and holds us accountable,” he said. “We do not know everything.”
Daylight savings time presents new safe city opportunities, Owens said, and organizing a walking club familiarizes neighbors with each other.
“Everyone will not participate every day, but eventually you will meet everyone,” he said. “If gangsters and thugs see a lot of neighborhood activity it discourages them. They target locations where no one is present, and no one cares.”
Interacting with deputies patrolling neighborhoods requires only a pot of coffee or a bottle of water.
“We spend a lot of time chasing calls and doing our job,” Owens said. “But during down time, meeting people and learning about what is going on in the neighborhood is wonderful.”
He shared a story about a lady in South LA who wanted to make a difference.
“She had drug houses on her block,” Owens said. “One night she invited us over for a spaghetti dinner, and no one came. She called back and spoke to the captain and we all started going.”
She served a different meal each week, and deputies started showing up just to eat.
“Her street and three others calmed down because of this lady’s efforts,” Owens said.
Attendees heard a presentation from representatives of Neighborhood Housing Services, which uses the neighborhood stabilization plan to purchase dilapidated homes and restore them to prominence.
“We are trying to get Compton families on the road to home ownership,” NHS Assistant Vice President and Community Affairs Director Nina Kilhman said. “It is not an automated teller machine, but it leads to a secure financial future.”
She said the group plans on purchasing and rehabilitating 400 properties.
“Empty homes lead to dope smoking, rape and gang activity,” Owens said. “Occupied homes remove the gathering place.”
Residents asked Owens if Compton Station could provide quarterly updates on law enforcement efforts, and he agreed.
Residents interested in starting a block club should email Commissioner Jasper Jackson at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 310-497-6426.
Deputy Rafer Owens can be reached at 310- 605-6542.