Ladera Heights community holds forum with law enforcement leaders on rising crime

When Daphne Bradford's catalytic converter was stolen while she was shopping at Ladera Shopping Center she got mad, but she did something about it.

Bradford, with the group Building Blue Bridges, called together leaders in law enforcement she had worked with for years and organized a summit meeting of stakeholders in the community. This weekend they had the first of what she believes will be monthly meetings.

Not only was she upset with her catalytic converter being stolen but that same night, the Ross Dress for Less in the same shopping center was the victim of a smash-and-grab robbery. The perpetrators, she said, couldn't have cared less about anyone in their way. 

"So they smashed and grabbed and laughed on their way out," Bradford said.

She believes zero bail is the problem. 

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"They're smashing and grabbing and then they cut 'em loose because of the zero bail," Bradford said. "Well, until that changes we have to work together as a community."

As she stood at a podium with Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore and other law enforcement leaders Sunday, they echoed her concerns. 

"This is one unified mission. To keep our neighborhoods safe," Moore said.

Chief Moore, Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna and other law enforcement leaders in the area came to the summit in Ladera Heights. They think criminals feel they have an opportunity. To all of them, the issue of zero bail is serious. Some say zero bail makes it look the system is soft on crime.

Moore said it appears to "the criminal element that this is an opportunity; that the system has been weakened, and the system has been set up to be gamed by individuals who feel they can engage in grand theft, they can engage in violent acts and not be held accountable."

Both Moore and Luna feel that hyperlocal approaches like what happened at this shopping center are the key — people coming together, people demanding action, people calling on law enforcement when something isn't right.

"If we want to reduce crime and improve the quality of life anywhere this is the key,"  Luna said. "Community members coming forward, reaching out to our departments and saying ‘Hey let’s work together.’"

Both Moore and Luna hope other communities will do the same thing.