The West Hollywood City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to receive regular updates on a wide range of public safety issues from the Sheriff’s Department and to use that information to give “additional direction” to city staff aimed at improving quality of life issues.
Both Mayor Jeffrey Prang and Mayor Pro Temp Abbe Land told outgoing Sheriff’s Department Capt. Kelley Fraser, who has been promoted to commander, that there has been a noticeable decline in Neighborhood Watch participation and that the public needs to be better informed about crime by better use of social media strategies and related technologies.
“The Sheriff’s Department can’t be everywhere,” Land told Fraser, making a case for increased technology-aided social interaction between law enforcement the community. “The more eyes on the streets the better.”
Land also pointed out that it’s not uncommon to see people in West Hollywood walking their dogs off leash, which, she said, is a form of negligence that threatens dogs’ safety and is comparable to the practice of holding a child’s hand while walking in the city. Yet, “when we tell people to keep their dogs leashed, they get upset sometimes,” she said, adding that the Sheriff’s Department needs to give the City Council “more information on what would constitute negligence so that we can give better instruction to people.”
Councilman John D’Amico told Capt. Fraser that he hopes her successor will engage in “regular conversations” with the City Council about homelessness in West Hollywood.
The phenomenon appears to be getting “more aggressive,” along with a “higher acuity of mental illness,” D’Amico said. The councilman added that he hopes whoever replaces Fraser as the commanding officer in West Hollywood will provide “all documentation” on the homeless so that the City Council might use the information to provide more thorough social services to help ease the homeless problem.
The Sheriff’s Department needs to pay closer attention to quality of life issues such as excessive motorcycle noise, bicycles on sidewalks and unleashed dogs, Prang told Capt. Fraser. “It doesn’t have to be our top priority,” he said. “Maybe it will be our tenth priority, but it needs to be on the list.”
Stressing the importance of improved public access to public safety information, Mayor Prang said that West Hollywood needs to improve its use of social media in tackling crime.
He added that companies compete with each other in the business of helping cities handle their crime-related social media. “Some of them are even coming to West Hollywood,” the mayor said.
“We need to be at the cutting edge of those issues, and I don’t think we have, so that’s my challenge to you in the next year,” Prang told Capt. Fraser.