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Show We Are One City: Cover Killings Equally

September 14, 2002

We all read in The Times about the fatal shooting of three employees at a Westside Koo Koo Roo restaurant by a suspected gang member (Aug. 29). The incident was horrible, and my heart goes out to the victims' loved ones. But I had to wonder: If the shooting had happened in Pacoima or the Eastside, would The Times have paid as much attention?

Most people don't know that as of August, 39 homicides have occurred in the LAPD's Hollenbeck Division this year. That's up from 23 Hollenbeck murders from January to August 2001. Citizens living in the Rampart Division had to cope with 29 homicides as of August. The Northeast and Central divisions were also hit with a respective 18 and eight homicides during this same period. Where was The Times?

The Times has provided voracious coverage of the Danielle van Dam rape and murder case, which took place outside L.A. County. Bonny Lee Bakley's Studio City murder, in which Robert Blake is the prime suspect, also garners steady attention.

The LAPD's Hollenbeck, Rampart, Northeast and Central divisions are all a stone's throw away from The Times' Spring Street offices. From January to August, these regions had collectively suffered through almost 100 homicides. Yet readers probably remain ignorant of the ongoing mayhem, unless they live in the areas.

Perhaps the people in favor of San Fernando Valley secession feel this type of discrepancy when they claim to feel like the city's "stepchildren" compared with those living "over the hill." Since 2000, Valley residents experienced a crime surge, with homicide rates jumping by 80% in early 2002. Many of these killings occurred in the Northeast San Fernando Valley.

Reducing homicides is doable. In East Los Angeles--an unincorporated area of L.A. County--homicide rates have decreased to the single digits, a 30-year low. This change occurred in large part because of the East Los Angeles Task Force, designed to help neighbors and law enforcement work together to deter crime.

West Los Angeles overall enjoys more media coverage simply because this area possesses the city's biggest tourist attractions. But if The Times' goal is to accurately chronicle Los Angeles' full history, then the rest of the city must be covered with the same intensity.

Gloria Molina

L.A. County Supervisor

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