The Los Angeles Police Department began mounted unit patrols along Melrose Avenue Wednesday as area business owners and residents voiced concerns about a string of recent crimes.
LAPD hosted a virtual town hall Wednesday via Zoom, and a second virtual community meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. Attendees can prereigster by going to melroseaction.org/meetings.
The meetings were called in response to a series of armed robberies and other crimes taking place in the Melrose and Fairfax shopping areas in recent months.
Zero Selon, owner of sneaker store Zero’s on Melrose, said a man with a gun told his employees to fill bags with expensive shoes and cash when his shop was held up last week.
“So we have armed security and more staff,” he said, adding that the business can’t really afford it. “I’m spending all of my savings to try and get through this period.”
Police Chief Michel Moore says that the overall number of robberies in the city is about the same as last year, but they are seeing a rising number of robberies involving guns, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The department has put more officers on foot patrols in the area and directed officers in cars to drive along the shopping corridor when not responding to calls for help, Deputy Chief Blake Chow told the Times.
But Peter Nichols, co-founder of a community group called Melrose Action, said many don’t feel LAPD isn’t solving the issue.
“I think that there’s just a sense in the community among merchants especially who are concerned that maybe whatever is being done isn’t really working,” he said.
LAPD Capt. Sonia Monico advised people not to draw attention to themselves with expensive items, and defended the department’s approach.
“I just ask that the community continue to work with us,” she said. “We’re all in this together and we’re going to get this problem resolved.”