Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Why did LAPD wait to warn about crime against Echo Park kids?

The bluffs to the west of Echo Park Lake offer sweeping views of the park and lake below. But this same scenic overlook is also believed to be a favorite hang-out for a man suspected of assaulting three girls, who have been grabbed from behind in what police think may have been potential kidnapping attempts. All three girls got away from their attacker as they walked near two bridges that cross the 101 Freeway, including the Belmont pedestrian bridge (pictured). The first known assault took place in March and the most recent about two weeks ago. But LAPD, which is scheduled to hold a press conference on the assaults this morning near the Belmont bridge issued a community alert only last week. Why did they wait so long to warn the community? Police say the decision to warn or wait is a complicated one.

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The same issue came up last May when some Glassell Park residents asked why the LAPD Northeast Division issued a community e-mail alert about the assaults on two school girls a week after the incident too place. In contrast, a kidnapping attempt in April against a girl walking to a middle school in Silver Lake prompted the police to issue an e-mail warning a few hours after the crime and to hold a press conference the next day.

Police say they constantly struggle as to when to alert residents to ongoing crime, especially when it's not clear who they are looking for or if there is a connection between incidents. In the case of the Echo Park assaults, nearby schools did notify parents of the attacks even though school was not in session, said Lt. Wes Buhrmester with the Rampart Detective Division.

"An issue with which we constantly wrestle is when to disseminate information, and to what degree," said Buhrmester via email. "In this case, although the first case did occur in the spring, we were not reasonably sure, to our comfort, that the same suspect was involved in all three cases. As time went on and the investigation proceeded forth (locating and interviewing additional witnesses), we believed one suspect was responsible for all three crimes. At that point in time, the community alert was published."

Today's press conference is scheduled for 10:30 a.m at 400 North Belmont.

2 comments:

  1. Good journalism on this one. I hope this guy gets picked up as soon as possible before taking the hint and heading off to another neighborhood where he can prey on other girls.

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  2. Very nice piece, full of information and free of histrionics.

    Your site is one of my favorite things about living in NELA.

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