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Hate Crimes and the Police Vote in West Hollywood

October 22, 1992

In response to the article "Sensitivity, Public Safety Focus of Vote on Deputies" regarding the West Hollywood Police Department Initiative (Times, Oct. 15), it is obvious that bashings, hate crime assaults and bias are just the way of life for many who reside in West Hollywood.

I was outraged by Sheriff Capt. Chapman's contention that the highly charged campaign over the police measure was making it more difficult to determine how many such accounts are true. It's a convenient argument to use now, but how does the captain explain eight years of complaints since cityhood, logged by citizens and repeatedly ignored by the Sheriff's Station and subsequently the City Council?

I have been witness to bashings by outside thugs who terrorize this city. The response of the Sheriff's Department after being called is either no response, or perhaps 30 minutes later a patrol car is flagged down by witnesses demanding assistance. Or perhaps it is someone who calls with an attempted hate crime and gets hung up on by an uncaring deputy. Can the captain even begin to speculate on the number of people who don't bother to report assaults, because the perception is that the Sheriff's Department cares to do little about correcting such behavior?

I personally don't blame the Sheriff's captain for the many problems with public safety in West Hollywood. After all, he has admitted publicly that he "has many bosses." It is time for West Hollywood to assert local control over its policing--where citizens have an opportunity to work in concert with an unbiased community-based police force. I urge everyone to vote YES on Proposition AA.

JOHN UNDERWOOD

West Hollywood

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