Police continue to prepare for an evaluation process with the national Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies later this month, in an effort to earn the official stamp of approval from the internationally recognized commission.
There are about 600 police agencies accredited by the commission in all of the United States, Canada, and Mexico. In order to attain accreditation, a team of law enforcement practitioners will review the department's police reports, interview residents, and examine how officers address community issues, such as nightlife, parking, and patrol.
This evaluation will be measured against the commission's standards for safety, professionalism, preparedness, accountability, and risk management. Police Chief Greg Savelli talked to Patch in the final installment of a two-part interview about how the department hopes to meet these standards by monitoring nightlife and being mindful of resident issues.
Hermosa Beach Patch: First, why are so many officers located on Pier Plaza on Friday and Saturday nights?
Chief Greg Savelli: We want the community to see the officers on the Plaza as it helps deter crime. As to the number, that again depends on what is happening and what day it is. On weekends, as I mentioned [in the first part of the interview], we staff officers specifically for the downtown, beach and Pier Plaza area.
They work from 3 p.m. in the afternoon until 3 a.m. in the morning. This way, they provide assistance when the beach is busy and active, right through to bar closing time.
In addition, should there be a call for service in the area, such as a large disturbance or a fight, patrol officers will respond to the area as well. We try and keep a balance between the patrol beats, the officers in your neighborhoods, and the high-demand areas, such as downtown and the Plaza.
In years past, the department used to call all officers to the Plaza at bar closing time. Residents felt left out, as when they called the police, the dispatcher often told them the officers were busy on the Plaza.
Being that we are a very compact city [of] 1.3 square miles, we changed that policy so that the patrol officers remain in your neighborhoods as much as possible and respond to downtown only when needed.
They [the officers] are never more than a mile away from either your home or any other area of the city. That is a terrific luxury to the residents of Hermosa Beach, as our response times are some of the best in the industry.
Patch: What are the three primary issues that you think are important for residents to keep in mind?
Savelli: When attending Neighborhood Watch meetings, the three issues that come up most often are the following.
Parking; parking is at a premium in Hermosa Beach or any beach city. Lots of people visit our community. In addition, residents over time have stopped using their garages for their cars. Most have them [are] filled with junk, workout equipment or a playroom for the kids. This forces their cars to the street.
If more people used their garage for their cars, a significant number of spaces on the streets would be opened up. We also recommend that neighbors get to know each other. Perhaps there may be a senior citizen who no longer drives, but they have driveway or garage space available. Perhaps they would allow neighbors to use it in exchange for work around their home or rides to the doctor?
Traffic issues, speeding [and] stop sign running ... 80 to 90 percent of the violators are our residents. We know the routes and where the signs are. We are the ones that usually push it to the edge as we complete our errands, head off to work or take the kids to school.
When we do radar enforcement, most of those caught are local residents. We will come to your neighborhood upon request, but beware, it may be you or your neighbor getting the ticket. So please slow down and make full complete stops at all times.
Downtown issues... the downtown and Plaza area have been responsible for a high number of calls for service over the years. Over the past three years, the City Council, the planning commission and the police department have all worked together to address the issues. As a result, calls for service have gone down by one-third.
This is a significant improvement over prior years and additional credit should be given to the operators of the local businesses, as they too have worked to decrease the negative effects of their businesses on our community. More work needs to be done and we will never eliminate the issues totally.