LAPD shooting: How to secure a police station that is open to the public?

82003 full
82003 full

Monday night’s shooting of an LAPD officer was the second at the Wilshire Station in the past 10 months, raising the question: Is it possible to secure a station that is open to the public?

“We’re an open, public facility,” said Eric Davis, Commanding Officer of the Wilshire Division. “The LAPD prides itself on being very engaged in the community, and a station that is really open to the community as a whole should not look like a fortress.”

The station on Venice Boulevard is about seven miles west of downtown Los Angeles, and its two buildings house the LAPD’s Wilshire and West Traffic divisions.

Anyone can walk up to the front desk where the shooting happened. There are no metal detectors to screen civilians entering the lobby or bulletproof glass to protect the officers working at the front desk.

Related: LAPD officer shot at station released from hospital

Last June, an unknown shooter fired at two officers outside the Wilshire Station. Davis said that incident prompted a review of security measures at the facility, but no major adjustments were made.

“There was some foliage that we felt that provided some unnecessary cover should there be an incident at the station, so we made some minor modifications, but nothing drastic,“ Davis told KPCC.

Daphne Brogdon was inside the station during Monday night’s shooting. She was attending a monthly meeting of the Olympic Park Neighborhood Council. She agrees that adding bulletproof glass at the front desk – or other obvious security measures – wouldn’t help LAPD’s image.

“That really flies in the face of the reform that the LAPD has been trying to do,” Brogdon said. “They’re trying to be part of L.A. and have community policing, which has been so great.”

Roy Amemiya co-chairs the Wilshire Division Community Policing Advisory Board, which also meets monthly at the station. He called the two shootings isolated events.

Improved dialogue

“It has nothing to do with how the LAPD is interfacing with the community,” Amemiya said.

In the eight years he’s been volunteering with the board, he has seen an improvement in dialogue between the police officers and the neighborhoods they patrol. Some residents have even formed smaller groups within their communities that communicate regularly with officers.

“If somebody has a problem with something, there is a forum for that,” Amemiya said.   

The challenge is that most residents are too busy to even know that this type of forum exists, Amemiya said.

The LAPD’s Davis agreed that the police station’s relationship with the communities it serves is good. Since Monday’s shooting, he says he has received numerous emails of support. However, the commander acknowledged that two shootings in a 10-month period are hard to ignore. He said the LAPD is constantly evaluating security at its stations.

“You ask yourself ‘Why?’ over and over again,” Davis said. “And you have to ask yourself: ‘What can be done to prevent it in the future?’”

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