West Hollywood mayor slams move to defund cops and bring in 30 unarmed ‘security ambassadors’

West Hollywood mayor slams move to defund cops and bring in 30 unarmed 'security ambassadors' 2
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The woke West Hollywood officials who proposed the city defund their sheriff’s department to save money had agreed to spend $85,000 to updating the city’s LGBT crosswalk to make it more inclusive. 

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Sepi Shyne, the city’s first LGBTQ councilmember, led a 3-2 vote to cut the current force of around 60 sheriff’s deputies by four, while also hiring 30 unarmed ‘security ambassadors’ under a scheme called Block By Block.

The woke councilmember said the officers cost too much – and the Block by Block program represented more ‘bang for the buck.’

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‘What we know now is our residents want foot patrols,’ Shyne told Fox News. ‘We need to be fiscally responsible.’

‘And we have all talked for two years. Reimagining policing means reallocating funding. You can’t just say it without actually doing it. Period.’

But despite touting the need to save money, Shyne and the council voted to spend $85,000 updating the city’s iconic rainbow crosswalk this year, adding colors to represent the transgender community and communities of color. 

‘The new inclusive pride crosswalks demonstrate our City’s commitment to recognizing and honoring all within our LGBTQ+ community as well as our acknowledgement that equity is needed for historically marginalized members of our LGBTQ+ community,’ said Shyne after the city unveiled the new design in March. 

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West Hollywood City Councilmember Sepi Shyne, led the city's vote 3-2 on Monday to drop four sheriff's deputy positions from the budget

West Hollywood City Councilmember Sepi Shyne, led the city’s vote 3-2 on Monday to drop four sheriff’s deputy positions from the budget

Instead, the city will bring on 30 unarmed 'security ambassadors' under its Block By Block program. The security ambassadors' job is not to make arrests, but simply to provide assistance to residents and deter crime with merely their uniformed presence in the streets

Instead, the city will bring on 30 unarmed ‘security ambassadors’ under its Block By Block program. The security ambassadors’ job is not to make arrests, but simply to provide assistance to residents and deter crime with merely their uniformed presence in the streets

Last year, the city opted to allocate $85,000 to upgrade its Rainbow crosswalk to be more inclusive, adding colors to represent the transgender community and communities of color. Pictured: a mockup of what the new crosswalk would look like

Last year, the city opted to allocate $85,000 to upgrade its Rainbow crosswalk to be more inclusive, adding colors to represent the transgender community and communities of color. Pictured: a mockup of what the new crosswalk would look like 

The change would alter the iconic street where the crosswalk was first installed in 2012

The change would alter the iconic street where the crosswalk was first installed in 2012

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Lauren Meister, the Democratic mayor who voted against the plan along with one other member of the council, called it illogical, noting that the Los Angeles enclave is afflicted by a rising tide of crime and violence.

‘Most of the residents and businesses I have heard from are opposed to cutting the Sheriff’s budget,’ Meister told Fox.

‘They are outraged that people and organizations from outside our city are dictating to council how to run our city,’ she added, appearing to reference the controversial Defund the Police movement occurring nationwide.

‘The narrative that we can have ‘either Sheriff’s or social services,’ or ‘either Sheriff’s or unarmed security teams’ is false.’ 

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Although West Hollywood has a little more than 35,000 residents, with the average home valued at $1.25 million, it ranks among the most dangerous neighborhoods in the country. 

Lauren Meister, the mayor of West Hollywood, voted against the plan to defund the sheriff's office, saying the city should be focused on combating soaring crime rates

Lauren Meister, the mayor of West Hollywood, voted against the plan to defund the sheriff’s office, saying the city should be focused on combating soaring crime rates 

The city of West Hollywood has more than 35,000 residents and boasts one of the worst scores on safety in the nation, according to Neighborhood Scout

The city of West Hollywood has more than 35,000 residents and boasts one of the worst scores on safety in the nation, according to Neighborhood Scout 

West Hollywood’s plan to save money on safety: Council brings in ‘Block by Block’ officers to replace cops

The West Hollywood City Council voted 3-2 to let go of four sheriff’s deputy positions and instead hire 30 unarmed ‘security ambassadors’ under a scheme called Block By Block.

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Block by Block is a security firm that serves more than 100 downtown districts in the U.S., primarily through street cleaning and beautification. 

First partnered with West Hollywood in 2013, Block by Block provides security personnel around the city to work in collaboration with the West Hollywood’s Sheriff’s Station. 

The security ambassadors job is not to make arrests, but simply to provide assistance to residents and deter crime with merely their uniformed presence in the streets.

According to the city’s plan, the first two deputies will go in the fall. 

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Three more will depart over the year, but the headcount will only go down by four, after an additional deputy will be added to the Entertainment Policing division. 

The city council members who voted for the change in security – Sepi Shyne, John D’Amico and Lindsey Horvath – said it was the fiscally responsible thing to do. 

Mayor Lauren Meister and councilman John Erickson voted against it, saying residents and business owners were worried about the ramifications given that crime is up 137 percent in the city ranked among the lowest in safety in the nation.

West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station polices the City of West Hollywood and the unincorporated communities of Franklin Canyon, Universal City – which includes Universal Theme Park, Studios, and Citywalk – and the Federal Enclave in West Los Angeles. 

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The city added a security ambassadors’ kiosk on the corner of La Brea Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard. 

Neighborhood Scout, which compiles the crime data of cities across the country, gave the California city a crime index of eight, meaning 92 percent of U.S. cities are considered safer. 

The ranking was derived using data from 2021, which means the city’s crime index is likely much lower after crime more than doubled in the last year.  

In February, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) reported that crime in West Hollywood had risen 137 percent compared to the same time last year.

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February 2022 saw roughly 250 ‘Part One’ crimes reported, including murder, rape, burglary, aggravated assault, arson, and human trafficking.

There were 105 such incidents reported in February 2021, KTLA reported.

This number also marks the highest monthly total of crimes classified as ‘Part One’ since LASD began recording those statistics.

West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station polices the City of West Hollywood and the unincorporated communities of Franklin Canyon, Universal City – which includes Universal Theme Park, Studios, and Citywalk – and the Federal Enclave in West Los Angeles. The department did not immediately respond to DailyMail.com’s request for comment. 

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Residents are uneasy about the decision, WeHoville.com reported, saying that residents and business owners from all over the city have for the last few months expressed their deep concerns about cutting the sheriff’s budget in the midst of a crime wave, and at a time of general unease.

City councilman John Erickson, who voted with Meister against slashing the budget, said he, too, was worried about the rising crime and said the city needed a real plan to secure the people’s safety. 

‘Community safety is our number one concern,’ he told Fox. ‘When I’ve heard from countless residents about how they want to feel safer, that involves comprehensive planning and something that is not just drawn out over a decision.’ 

According to the city’s plan, the first two deputies will go in the fall. Three more will depart over the year – but the headcount will only go down by four, because an additional deputy will be added to the Entertainment Policing division.

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The city will also take on an additional 30 unarmed ‘security ambassadors’ through the Block by Block program, a security firm that serves more than 100 downtown districts in the U.S., primarily through street cleaning and beautification. 

First partnered with West Hollywood in 2013, Block by Block provides security personnel around the city to work in collaboration with the West Hollywood’s Sheriff’s Station. 

The security ambassadors job is not to make arrests, but simply to provide assistance to residents and deter crime with their uniformed presence in the streets. 

‘Our mission is to be a visible deterrent on the street,’ Shea Gibson, manager of the West Hollywood Security Ambassadors told ABC7. ‘To try to offset any low-hanging fruit criminal activity.’ 

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John Erickson (pictured in June 2021) was the second vote against the plan to defund the sheriffs

Councilman John Erickson (right) was against the budget slashing, worrying about high crime rates in the city and concerns voiced by residents 

Lindsey Horvath voted in favor of defunding the sheriffs

John D'Amico said he felt the sheriffs were not providing value for money

Councilors Lindsey Horvath (left) and John D’Amico (right) voted with Shyne to defund

While the presence of the security ambassadors is seen as a positive in the city, many are doubtful they can deter as much crime as actual officers patrolling the streets

While the presence of the security ambassadors is seen as a positive in the city, many are doubtful they can deter as much crime as actual officers patrolling the streets

West Hollywood mayor slams move to defund cops and bring in 30 unarmed 'security ambassadors' 3

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John D’Amico, another councilor who voted in favor of Shyne’s plan, also backed the Block by Block plan.

‘In my mind, this is an increase of safety services with 60 additional eyes on the street working directly with the residents and the sheriff and code compliance and our social services providers – and two fewer deputies this fall,’ he told Fox News in a statement. 

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Meister, however, is unconvinced, and vowed to not to sign off on the city’s budget in its current form.

‘I’m not going to vote for the budget if we cut the sheriff’s (funds),’ Meister said, according to WeHoville.com. 

‘First of all, nobody has the gun problem that we have in this country. You can’t expect us to have a public safety team where most of the people aren’t armed in order to defend our citizens.’ 

The change also comes amid a spate of shocking crimes in the area, including an incent in February where a homeless man forced a young woman into a residential garage where he ‘nearly raped her’ before she was able to escape.

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In surveillance footage of the February incident, a man can be seen gripping the first woman by her arm and pulling her inside the garage at the 800 block of North Vista Street near Melrose Avenue around 12.30 pm

In surveillance footage of the February incident, a man can be seen gripping the first woman by her arm and pulling her inside the garage at the 800 block of North Vista Street near Melrose Avenue around 12.30 pm

Moments later, the woman is seen racing out of the garage to her freedom

Moments later, the woman is seen racing out of the garage to her freedom

Just 20 minutes later, the suspect tried to force his way into another woman’s apartment but fled when she screamed, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

In the first incident, surveillance footage, first obtained by ABC 7, captured the man  gripping the woman by her arm as they walked through the West Hollywood neighborhood, where homes sell for an average of $1.5million each.

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He then pulled her inside the garage of a stranger’s home at the 800 block of North Vista Street near Melrose Avenue around 12.30 pm. 

The member of the  Los Angeles Police Department’s media relations team told DailyMail.com that the man ‘made threats and demands that made her fear bodily harm.’

Moments later, the woman is seen racing out of the garage to her freedom. She then ran to get help.

About 30 minutes later, a man believed to be the same transient allegedly pushed a woman into her apartment in the 7600 block of Hampton Avenue in West Hollywood. She managed to scare him away by screaming at him, police said.

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Robberies are among the biggest problems in the area, which hit the cast of Selling Sunset in March, causing company founder Jason Oppenheim to ban his glamorous staff from wearing expensive jewelry to avoid being victims. 

‘I told them not to wear jewelry or watches anymore,’ Oppenheim told TMZ after an employee was robbed at gunpoint. ‘We have to be diligent, you’ve got to look over your shoulder these days.   

Jason Oppenheim spoke just hours after an armed robbery took place outside the Selling Sunset office in West Hollywood in March

Jason Oppenheim spoke just hours after an armed robbery took place outside the Selling Sunset office in West Hollywood in March

Scene of the crime: The incident took place in the parking lot behind The Oppenheim Group offices on Sunset Blvd in West Hollywood (Pictured above)

Scene of the crime: The incident took place in the parking lot behind The Oppenheim Group offices on Sunset Blvd in West Hollywood (Pictured above) 

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Despite touting a need to save money, the West Hollywood City Council members agreed to stump up funds for a Russian arts festival – increasing their contribution by $14,000 to $50,000.

The West Hollywood’s Russian Arts and Culture Festival has been held for 20 years as it celebrates Russian and Eastern European culture, but the city will be revamping its festival this year following Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine. 

Rather than focusing on Russia, the event organizers will be focusing the celebration on those who share culture and completely forgo mentioning Russia. 

‘This year we don’t want to host a Russian festival,’ said Tatyana Rodzinek, West Hollywood’s Russian community programs coordinator. ‘We will skip the word Russian this year.’ 

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West Hollywood is known for its vibrant gay community, and the shooting in Oslo during Pride set people nationwide on edge. Furthermore, Justice Clarence Thomas’s opinion issued on Friday, concurrent with repealing Roe v. Wade, suggested ending gay marriage and other civil rights.

The decision to defund the sheriffs comes only a week after Captain Bill Moulder was sworn in to head the West Hollywood office. 

On June 16, Moulder told Beverly Press he planned to focus on preventing the most common crimes in the district – property offenses and assaults.

‘Because the things driving our numbers are theft-type crimes, that has and will continue to be our biggest focus,’ he said at the time. 

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‘Particularly crimes occurring in our nightlife establishments, like pickpocketing, that are occurring inside the establishments and outside on the streets. 

‘Street robberies will be a focus as well. Violent crime is always a concern, and we will work to address that.’

Moulder said statistics show nearly one-third of street robberies involve people who are unhoused, so he plans to increase outreach work, in collaboration with the city, to address the issue.

‘It’s important to do outreach, and I think we can really make a difference in preventing crime,’ he said. 

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‘I have had a lot of contact with the community, our city itself and the City Council, and have developed a great working relationship. I plan to continue that work. It’s an honor to serve in this capacity.’

He has not commented on their Monday night vote. 

Los Angeles County Sheriff officers disperse demonstrators protesting over Breonna Taylor in West Hollywood, California on September 25, 2020

Los Angeles County Sheriff officers disperse demonstrators protesting over Breonna Taylor in West Hollywood, California on September 25, 2020

The concept of ‘defunding the police’ became popular in the wake of the May 2020 murder of George Floyd by a white policeman in Minneapolis.

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Yet in November 2021, voters in the city resoundingly rejected a proposal to reinvent policing.

Approximately 56 percent of voters rejected a ballot question that would have removed the Minneapolis Police Department from the city charter and replaced it with a ‘public-health oriented’ Department of Public Safety.

Joe Biden and the ACLU have spoken out against defund movements, with Biden insisting there should be more funding for police.  

‘The answer is not to defund the police,’ Biden said, on a visit to the NYPD earlier this year. 

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‘It is to give you the tools and training, the funding to be partners, to be protectors and [the] community needs you. 

‘It’s time to fund community policing to protect and serve the community.’ 

And Eric Adams was elected as mayor of New York City in part because he vowed to push back against defunding the police, and promised reform without financial cuts.

Congressman Ritchie Torres, who represents New York, said in February: ‘The defund police movement is dead in New York City — and good riddance. 

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‘And any elected official who’s advocating for the abolition and/or even the defunding of police is out of touch with reality and should not be taken seriously.’ 

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