The Culver City Chamber of Commerce hosted a zoom meeting at 7 pm, on April 6, 2021 for the business community to connect with the Culver City Police Department about pandemic policing and how the future might unfold. The call was well attended, with an estimated 75 people participating, and focused on information from Acting Chief of Police Manuel Cid.
After being introduced by Chamber leaders Coliz Diaz and Keith Jones, Cid covered some statistics before opening up to questions from the chat. Noting that the current crime rates were being compared to 2019, Cid offered that many of the issues the police were currently dealing with may be ‘pandemic problems’ and could change after the state’s proposed re-opening in June.
Cid noted a 20% increase in violent crime, specifically aggravated assault; (resulting in serious injury or weapon used -)
and that these “assaults were up 92% in 2020. That is a trend through the county and the region.” Cid also offered that “Guns sales are through the roof,” noting that the fear many people felt during the beginning of the pandemic motivated people who had not been gun owners to purchase firearms.
One notable increase in pandemic related crimes were that burglaries were listed as being up 82%. Cid saw this as ‘ a crime of opportunity. “When businesses are closed, there’s no one around, it creates a greater opportunity for people to break in, thinking that they won’t be detected.” He cautioned that business owners should not “leave a lot of cash on the premises. If you have a safe or a cash register – and yes, I know that what those are for, storing money – but best to have it at a more secure location.”
None of the crime issues discussed were exclusive to Culver City, with the Chief reiterating that all of Los Angeles County was seeing an increase in crimes that were connected to businesses being closed, and normally crowded venues being almost vacant.
Fox Hills/Westfield Mall was mentioned as ‘District Five’ and discussed as an area where theft was drastically down, (shops closed means no shoplifting) but burglaries were up (break-ins are a different category of crime.)
Cid also brought up the changes in police policy that were slowly coming into public awareness – the ‘Refocus Policing’ policy, changes in why an officer would pull a vehicle over for a traffic stop, and the ‘Park, bike, walk, talk’ policy that gets officers out of patrol cars on out onto the neighborhood on bikes or on foot.
Questions to Chief Cid on accessing the numbers behind the statistics and how police recognized or created ‘districts’ within the city went unanswered.
The majority of questions from business owners on the zoom call focused on the homeless, and the unsanitary conditions created by the ongoing housing crisis. Several business people requested walking/biking patrols near their locations, some of which had seem a big decrease in regular foot traffic because of the pandemic.
Diaz offered that the Chamber would be holding these meetings with the police in the future on a quarterly basis, so the next meeting will likely be scheduled near the June re-opening date.
Editor’s Note; Manuel Cid is the the Acting Chief of Police pending the formal resignation of Chief Scott Bixby, who has been absent on medical leave since June of 2020.
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