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COMMUNITY NEWS: MID-CITY

KOREATOWN : LAPD May Revamp Division Boundaries

April 25, 1993|JAKE DOHERTY

The Los Angeles Police Department is considering a plan to redraw its area boundaries so that well-defined communities such as Koreatown are served by a single police station, a police commander said at a community meeting last week.

Currently, police boundaries split Koreatown roughly in half, with one part served by the West Bureau's Wilshire Division and the other by the Central Bureau's Rampart Division.

Commander Michael Bostic, assistant commanding officer for operations in the West Bureau, acknowledged that the split has caused frustration and confusion for Koreatown residents, leaving them uncertain about which police station to call for help.

As one of its community-based policing reforms, the department could present a plan for redrawn boundaries to the Police Commission by the end of the year if it finds sufficient community support for the idea, Bostic said.

Yohngsohk Choe, coordinator of the Wilshire Community Police Council, urged Korean-Americans to participate in community meetings with the police and volunteer for community patrols and neighborhood watch groups. Last week's meeting was sparsely attended.

Daniel Oh, president of the West 8th Street Korean Merchants Assn., said the LAPD needs to recruit more Korean-speaking officers who could encourage crime victims and witnesses who speak only Korean to contact the police.

In response to a question about the slow response of police to calls for assistance, Bostic said nearly 60% of calls to the 911 emergency system are not emergencies and tie up lines and delay attention to life-threatening situations.

The Rev. Hong Suk Ko of the Los Angeles Presbyterian Church told Bostic that many members of his congregation are paralyzed by the fear of crime and most have already been victims of robberies or burglaries.

"People don't even want to go out anymore," Ko said. "This is America. How can it be? People feel helpless and hopeless about the crime situation."

Volunteer community patrols can add a measure of security to neighborhoods as the "eyes and ears" of the police, Bostic said. But he cautioned residents against confronting crime suspects and carrying unlicensed weapons.

Though there was no violence following verdicts in the federal Rodney G. King beating case, the city cannot yet relax, Bostic said. He said the police will be prepared to deal with any problems related to the upcoming trial in the Reginald O. Denny case.

But, he added, "the problems in this city go far deeper than these two trials. There's a lot of tension in this city, even within the police department. The 1990s could be a lot like the 1960s in terms of civil unrest. That goes along with cultural diversity. Whenever there's diversity there's a lot of conflict."

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