North Hollywood Introduces its “Hats Off!” Program NR11478ne

October 12, 2011

Los Angeles: The Los Angeles Police Department unveiled a new pilot program called, “Hats Off to Fight Crime.” The purpose of the program is to reduce robbery and violence in retail establishments.

The Hats Off program is adapted from a successful crime prevention effort undertaken by the Folkestone Police Station in Kent, England. According to Police Constable John Weller of the Folkestone Neighbourhood [sic¬–British spelling] Policing Unit, the Hats Off effort dates back some 300 years. “I found out that King Carlos III of Spain introduced a similar program in the 1700s where he banned the wearing a broad-brimmed hats, which were being used to conceal the identity of criminals.” (Citation: The History of Spain by Peter Pierson, pp.78-79, published by Greenwood, 2008.)

The concept behind the North Hollywood Hats Off campaign is not much different. Many commercial robberies in the City of Los Angeles occur with suspects concealing their faces with hats, hoodies, or helmets. The 8” by 10” full-color sticker (as pictured above) is available to any North Hollywood-based business. It is placed near the entrances of the business as a reminder to customers to remove their head apparel before entering.

Refusing to remove head apparel does not constitute a crime in of itself, but business owners do have the right to refuse service to persons so dressed. California law makes the obstruction or intimidation of businesses or its employees a misdemeanor (See §602.1 California Penal Code). Therefore, business owners have discretion in who they choose to serve based on apparel and the threat of criminal activity.

The Los Angeles Police Department recommends that owners pay particular attention to customers who conceal their faces. “Employees are well within their rights to ask a customer to comply with the sign,” said Captain Justin Eisenberg, Commanding Officer of the North Hollywood station. “If the customer refuses to cooperate, the store employee can ask the customer to leave. If the customer refuses to leave, the police should be called because the situation has escalated to a possible criminal act.” Persons who fail to cooperate with the reasonable requests of business employees may be subject to arrest.

Businesses interested in the Hats Off program can contact the LAPD, North Hollywood Station, Robbery Detectives Mahoney or Hammer at 818-623-4061.