Tuesday, March 4, 2014
An Alternative to Traditional Policing: A Letter to Repeat Offenders NR14095pvMission Hills: The captain of LAPD’s Mission Police Station has written a letter to a select number of repeat offenders who were arrested last year two or more times within the boundaries of the Mission Police Station in the Northeast San Fernando Valley. The first two dozen of about 100 letters went out last Friday, hand delivered by uniformed police officers.
“It’s a novel approach, and it really doesn’t cost us much,” said Captain Todd Chamberlain, who authored the letter. “If this letter just connects with a few of these repeat offenders, we may have saved dozens of persons from being victimized, reduced the drain on police response, and even helped the offender.”
The letter’s purpose is meant to warn the most chronic offenders in the area, letting them know the police know who they are and what they’re up to. “The letter’s not meant to threaten or shame,” Chamberlain explained. “It’s meant to be a fair warning, and what’s more, to offer resources to help them reform.”
The back of the letter lists resources the recipients can approach for help in job counseling, gang intervention, drug and alcohol diversion, even tattoo removal.
The 100 recipients were pared down from over 8,500 arrests in the Mission Area in 2013. Police first looked at every person arrested more than once. “That left us with nearly 1000 persons, so we had to cut deeper,” Chamberlain added. So the list included only those person arrested twice or more for any crime, and at least one time for a Part I crime, the major crimes like theft, murder, rape, assault, robbery, burglary, and car theft.
The final criterion dropped the list to about 100 persons, whose total of arrests amounted to about 2 percent of all arrests for the year.
The list included persons like these: a 26-year-old man whose eight arrests included assault, theft, and drunkenness; a 30-year-old woman arrested twice for burglary, once for robbery and drug possession; a 24-year-old woman arrested 7 times for crimes including drug possession, domestic violence and theft; a 59-year-old man arrested for drunkenness, theft and disorderly conduct for a total of eight arrests. All arrests occurred in one year and just within the Mission Police Station boundaries.
“I look at this letter as an alternative approach to traditional policing, which we’ve done for decades,” Chamberlain explained. “It’s in a similar vein to our Operation Cease Fire, which addresses violent gang crime. If this letter even shows half the benefits of Operation Cease Fire, it will be a great success!”
Captain Chamberlain can be reached for interviews at (818) 838-9980. During non-business hours or on weekends, calls should be directed to 1-877-LAPD-24-7 (1-877-527-3247). Anyone wishing to remain anonymous should call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (800-222-8477). Tipsters may also contact Crime Stoppers by texting to phone number 274637 (C-R-I-M-E-S on most keypads) with a cell phone. All text messages should begin with the letters “LAPD.” Tipsters may also go to www.lapdonline.org, and click on "Webtips” and follow the prompts.