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LAPD Adds 10 Cameras to Curb Skid Row Crime

Expanded system will make downtown the most highly monitored part of the city.

September 15, 2006|Richard Winton | Times Staff Writer

The LAPD on Thursday unveiled a new network of surveillance cameras that will give the department a virtual cop on 10 of the busiest and most crime-ridden streets and intersections of downtown's skid row.

The $200,000 system, paid for by the Central City East Assn. using funds from two business improvement districts, has cameras capable of zooming close enough to capture the face of a drug dealer.

With the new eyes on the street, the LAPD's Central Station can monitor 36 cameras, including 16 in the historic core neighborhood and 10 in the fashion district -- making the downtown area the most heavily monitored part of the city.

"We can prevent crime from occurring or we can respond directly to where crime is occurring based on what a single officer can see on monitors at the police station," Capt. Andy Smith said.

Without enough officers for every corner of skid row, the cameras act as a force multiplier, said Estela Lopez, Central City East Assn. executive director.

"We are finally bringing high technology to the most entrenched criminal culture in L.A.: the drug supermarket that preys on our most vulnerable citizens and poses a threat to everyone in skid row, sheltered and unsheltered," Lopez said.

"We have 3,500 parolees and nearly 400 registered sex offenders living in the 52-block area of Central City East," Lopez said.

Cameras are already a fixture in the MacArthur Park area, along Hollywood Boulevard and at Watts' Jordan Downs housing project.

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richard.winton@latimes.com

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