A police cruiser is stopped at a light on Sunset boulevard and Vermont avenue.

Know your Neighborhood: Policing in Los Feliz vs Silver Lake vs East Hollywood

Over a five year period, from 2012 – 2017, the Million Dollar Hoods (MDH) project compiled data for estimated costs of arrests by both the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and the Los Angeles Sheriffs Department (LASD) across neighborhoods, community college areas, Metro subways and bus lines in L.A., and more.

Data taken from LAPD show areas where people were arrested from 2012 – 2017, how many days those people were detained, and “price tags” for booking and detainment, which is to say the costs for time that people spent under arrest at LAPD stations before arraignment or release.

Data taken from LASD took analyzed home addresses–when available–of people booked into jail by the sheriffs from 2012 – 2017, which are not shown in the data set for obvious reasons. Data analyzed also looked at the total number of days those people spent incarcerated, and the average daily cost of their time within the L.A. County Jail system, which is the largest jail system in the United States. Additionally, the data set for LASD’s arrests shows the level of alleged offenses by detainees, or whether detainees were held for misdemeanor or felony charges.

The following are a set of statistics taken from the Million Dollar Hoods database for the Los Feliz, Silver Lake and East Hollywood areas in Central L.A., which show major disparities between which racial groups are policed in each of these neighborhoods, as well as between expenses accrued for people arrested depending on which neighborhood they were arrested in.

Beginning with Los Feliz, over a five year period, the LAPD spent at least $607,237 to cover costs for 1,333 people arrested there, whose time in detention amounted to 2,642 days. The LASD over this period spent at least $272,892 for 133 people arrested in Los Feliz, whose collective time detained amounted to at least 1,737 days. Together, the LAPD and LASD’s costs for arresting and jailing people in Los Feliz amounted to at least $880,129 for 4,379 days of jail time from 2012 – 2017.

As recently as 2008, the median household income in Los Feliz was $50,793, about the same as the amount for L.A. County then. But while Blacks made up just 2.2% of the population of Los Feliz, they showed up as 13% of those arrested there, or nearly six times their demographic share. Latinos, who made up for 14.2% of the population, appeared as 25% of those arrested by LAPD in the area. By contrast, whites, who made up 67% of the population in Los Feliz, accounted for about 40% of arrests by LAPD there.

In the Silver Lake area, over a five year period, the LAPD spent at least $641,943 to cover costs for 1,313 people arrested there, whose time in detention amounted to 2,793 days. During that same time, the LASD spent at least $331,673 for 149 people arrested in Silver Lake, whose time detained totaled over 2,142 days. Together, the LAPD and LASD’s costs for arresting and jailing people in Silver Lake amounted to at least $973,616 for 4,935 days of jail time from 2012 – 2017.

As recently as 2008, the median household income in Silver Lake was $54,339, also about the same as the amount for L.A. County at the time. While Black people made up just 3.4% of the population in Los Feliz, they accounted for over 14% of those arrested by LAPD in the area, or over four times their demographic share. Latinos, who comprised just over 35% of the population, accounted for 52% of those arrested by LAPD in the area. Whites made up 43% of the population in Silver Lake, but accounted for only 25% of arrests by LAPD there.

Less than a few square miles from Los Feliz or Silver Lake, the lowest median income area of the three neighborhoods is the most policed. Over a five year period, from 2012-207, East Hollywood saw more expenditures for policing and jail time than Los Feliz and Silver Lake combined. The LAPD spent at least $3,454,495 to cover costs for 6,852 people arrested in the area, whose time incarcerated totaled more than 15,000 days, three times the rate of jail time for those arrested in either Los Feliz or Silver Lake.

Over the same period, the LASD spent at least $1,487,910 for 516 people arrested, whose time incarcerated totaled nearly 10,000 days. Together, the LAPD and LASD’s costs for arresting and jailing people in East Hollywood amounted to at least $4,942,405. These expenditures were made for at least 25,011 days of jail time for those arrested in East Hollywood from 2012 – 2017.

By 2008, the median household income for East Hollywood was $29,927, or nearly half of that of L.A. county at the time, not to mention nearly half of the median household income in the Los Feliz and Silver Lake areas at the time. Blacks made up just 2.4% of the neighborhood, but accounted for 13% of those arrested by LAPD, nearly six times their demographic share. Latinos made up for just over 55% of the population, but accounted for 65% of those arrested by LAPD. Whites, who made up 24% of the population of East Hollywood, accounted for 13% of those arrested by LAPD.

Additionally, in all three neighborhoods, males made up more than 3/4ths of those arrested by LAPD, while females accounted for 1/4th of those arrested. And at least half of the charges filed by the LASD against arrestees were misdemeanors, though it should be noted that even misdemeanors for non-whites can prove fatal for their chances at employment. Furthermore, as noted by the folks at MDH regarding their research methodology for these data:

“While the County Auditor-Controller calculations include variable costs (like staffing costs, travel and supplies), overhead costs, utilities costs, and accounting adjustments, our calculations only include variable costs. As a result, our estimates may be interpreted as conservative (emphasis mine): they do not include costs associated with building facilities and keeping the lights on, administrating the jail system as a sub-unit of county government, providing health care, or interfacing with the law enforcement and court systems.”

Even statisticians will admit that no data set tells the whole story, but the data above allow communities to consider just how many taxpayer dollars go yearly towards disproportionately jailing Black and Latino bodies in Los Angeles, particularly within a handful of areas in L.A. County, and how gross these disparities are when compared to neighborhoods within walking distance from particularly policed areas such as East Hollywood.

Readers can also consider the disproportionate level of jail time and detention costs for arrests in East Hollywood, where more than half of the Asian and Latino residents in the community are “foreign-born,” compared to the amount of costs and jail time for arrests in the neighboring Los Feliz and Silver Lake areas, which are substantially whiter neighborhoods. Clearly, the city of Los Angeles has a consistent track record arresting Blacks, Latinos and working class immigrants wherever they may be in Los Angeles, even while these groups are precisely those which have seen the least amount of support for housing, education, and fair employment in Los Angeles over the 172 years since California’s been in business.

In a sheriff’s document online listed by the MDH study, the front page informs readers that their department’s motto is “a tradition of service since 1850.” Clearly, such “service” refers to a very different kind of service than the one many people of color have experienced with such departments in their neighborhoods.

J.T.

A military plane, presumably belonging to the National Guard, flies above Los Angeles

In Pictures: A Week that Changed Los Angeles for A Generation

(Pandemic in Los Angeles: Day 80)

A group of police officers, sheriffs, and National Guard service-members at the Hall of Justice in downtown Los Angeles
A group of police officers, sheriffs, and National Guard service-members at the Hall of Justice in downtown Los Angeles
A line of National Guard service-members guard the Hall of Justice in downtown Los Angeles
A National Guard truck gets ready to make a turn on Hope Street in downtown Los Angeles
A police officer, sheriff, and National Guard service-member guard the Hall of Justice in downtown Los Angeles
A police officer, sheriff, and National Guard service-member guard the Hall of Justice in downtown Los Angeles
A police officer and National Guard service-member exchange a word at the Hall of Justice in downtown Los Angeles
A police officer and National Guard service-member exchange a word at the Hall of Justice in downtown Los Angeles
A crowd of protesters gathered on North Spring street
A line of police officers forms a barrier at L.A. City Hall in downtown Los Angeles
A line of police officers forms a barrier at L.A. City Hall in downtown Los Angeles
A police officer holds what appears to be a rubber bullet rifle at L.A. City Hall
A police officer holds what appears to be a rubber bullet rifle at L.A. City Hall
A protester holds a sign at a protest in front of L.A. City Hall
A protester holds a sign at a protest in front of L.A. City Hall
A helicopter circles around L.A. City Hall, monitoring protests
A helicopter circles around L.A. City Hall, monitoring protests
A police SUV cruises by on Hill street in downtown Los Angeles
A police SUV cruises by on Hill street in downtown Los Angeles
Police cruisers parked along 1st street and Hope street in Los Angeles
Police cruisers parked along 1st street and Hope street in Los Angeles

“The words ‘Equal Justice Under Law’ are carved in the pediment of the United States Supreme Court. This is precisely what protesters are rightly demanding. It is a wholesome and unifying demand—one that all of us should be able to get behind. We must not be distracted by a small number of lawbreakers. The protests are defined by tens of thousands of people of conscience who are insisting that we live up to our values—our values as people and our values as a nation…We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution.” – James Mattis, Former Secretary of Defense of the United States with more than 50 years of experience in the U.S. Marine Forces

J.T.

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A line of police officers forms a barrier at L.A. City Hall in downtown Los Angeles

LAPD officers Now Face a Crucial Choice: To stand with policies as they are, or stand for a change, even in their own ranks

(Pandemic in Los Angeles: Day 78)

As of 2018, according to Police Chief Michel Moore, Black, Asian and Latino police officers make up at least 60% of LAPD’s force in Los Angeles.

However, the Board of Directors for the police union, known as the Los Angeles Police Protective League, which works to “protect, promote, and improve the working conditions, legal rights, compensation and benefits of Los Angeles police officers,” is made up of nine officers, including just one Black woman, two white women, and six white men.

In other words, the board is not an accurate representation of what the majority of police officers in L.A. look like, and by extension, what their values are, as well as where they may see room to work along with members of the community in Los Angeles for the betterment of the public good.

The board of police commissioners, on the other hand, which “sets overall policy while the Chief of Police manages the daily operations of the Department and implements the Board’s policies or policy direction and goals,” is slightly more representative, but might be said to still fall short of “a fair share.” Made up of five mayor-appointed representatives, overseeing a police force where 60% of officers hail from Black, Asian and Latino communities, one could expect these groups to have, say, three out of five seats on the board.

Instead, two white women and one white man take up 60% of the board seats, while one Black man, and one Latina woman account for 40%. In a democratic country, numbers like these suggest we still have a ways to go before achieving an actual functioning democracy.

It’s therefore a good time for every LAPD officer to ask themselves: In the best case scenario, what might the future of policing look like in Los Angeles? For whom should police work, and how?

If there was ever a time for departments, organizations, and individuals everywhere in America to reflect on their own practices and representation, clearly that time has now arrived. And if there’s going to be any meaningful process of change and perhaps even reconciliation, these are just a few key questions to start with.

J.T.

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