Letters to the Editor
... input from forum participants


What should I do if have drug dealers in my neighborhood?

Jan. 17th

Hello, my name is R. (her full name was withheld by LACP), and I have a question. I was wondering if I could get some help with a problem I have. I live in the area of Los Angeles.

What should I do if have drug dealers in my neighborhood? Because last year I made a call to LAPD to complaint [about] my next door neighbor for disturbing the peace for loud noise in using mechanical equipment's, and car spray painting [using] a really strong chemical.

The only reply the person who took my report [made] was, "There will be an officer over in 15 minutes."

Well, I waited no one showed up at all, not even at [the very] least an officer to pass by the street.

Now I have more than 9 drug dealers in my street, [operating] sometimes around late, like at midnight, and sometimes at noon.

We do have a Neighborhood Watch [sign] posted on our block. The problem is they are out on the street in daylight, and sometimes children are there. My concern is for my nephews because they park in front of our house or they will go across the street to an abandoned house to smoke or do other drugs.

Who should I go to for information? I will be very thankful for your help.

Thank you,



LA Community Policing response:

Dear R.:

I'm delighted to take a stab at answering your questions. The issues you raise are common to Angelenos all over town as we struggle to resolve similar problems.

Perhaps I will post my response, removing your name and email address, to the LACP website.

How LAPD responds to a call for help depends on any number of factors, most of which an officer at a Division has no control over. He or she should not be promising you a specific amount of time before a patrol car can come to your aid.

Some of these factors will include how many units are deployed in your area on the current shift, and how many calls have come in that might be of a "higher priority." While the Department considers all calls important, because there are so few officers actually available for patrol, LAPD deploys officers according to a policy that rates the need according to the degree of the emergency.

Calls for noise problems will be lower in the list of calls for patrol units to respond to, for example, than will be a report of a violent crime. This means that requests for service are not necessarily answered in the order they are received, and even if your call, as a "non emergency" call, is already moving up on the list, it can be moved back down to nearer the bottom again if something more serious is reported to be going on.

Recent audits have shown that current LAPD response times, including those for the most high priority calls, average about seven minutes. The Department tracks this regularly and it's one of the reasons Chief Bratton would like more officers someday.

As far as what to do about the drug dealing I'd recommend at least two courses of action that may or may not be apparent to you. Because you say you have a Neighborhood Watch (or at least signs that indicate there's one) I'd suggest you join it actively. If you find there really is none I highly recommend you start it back up.

LAPD uses a system where there's a Senior Lead Officer (SLO) assigned to each of the 168 separate Basic Car Units throughout the City. His or her responsibility is to support local community policing efforts by helping to start and then attending Neighborhood Watch groups within the Basic Car Area.

First step for this is to determine which of the 18 LAPD Divisions serve your area (yours will be one of four in the West Bureau) and the maps on the website may help you with figuring this out. Look for them in "click here for LAPD at a glance" located in the blue box half way down the left column on the front page.

You're probably in either West LA or Pacific Division.

Once you know this go to the LAPD Sharing section and click on "List - Community Relations" to get the correct phone number. Give them a call and ask for the name and cell phone number of your Senior Lead Officer (they all have them). Then call and explain that you want to know about your local Neighborhood Watch.

The second thing I'd suggest is contacting your Neighborhood Prosecutor, whose name and number are again available on the site under LAPD Sharing section "List - Local Prosecutors" (every Division has their own, responsible for many quality of life problems such as ongoing drug dealing / gang house problems, loitering, harassment and any number of other things).

Local Prosecutors, also known as Neighborhood Prosecutors, are adept at finding solutions to long-term problem situations but work slowly and deliberately, coordinating their efforts with LAPD and other government agencies.

For example the abandoned house you mentioned might be able to be better secured, or perhaps even destroyed.

Narcotics and Special Enforcement Unit (gang) officers will also become involved, especially if good information from the community can help them determine when and where activity occurs.

Between your SLO and your Local Prosecutor you'll find a willing team of others who can bring to bear a more appropriate response to the one you've been getting.

But of course if you have an immediate emergency situation, especially any that are violent or crimes that are happening at the moment, call 911, and officers will be dispatched post haste.

We hope this information at least begins to answer some of your questions, and look forward to your active participation in the future.

Yours in service,

Bill Murray
LA Community Policing