QUARTZ HILL – Los Angeles County Sheriff’s officials revealed the results of a recent community survey for Quartz Hill residents at the George Lane Community Center Thursday.
Captain Pat Nelson of the Lancaster Sheriff’s Station told about 20 people gathered at the public meeting that 43.7 percent of the residents and businesses surveyed in West Lancaster were most concerned about thefts. The second most area of concern was narcotics at 29.8 percent, followed by vandalism at 17.6 percent, gangs at 4.7 percent and violent crimes at 4.1 percent.
“We actually checked on about 1,000 homes and businesses in West Lancaster,” Captain Nelson said, noting that the Sheriff’s Department Public Trust Partnership program had received more than 400 responses from the March 14 community survey.
The Lancaster Sheriff’s Station Quartz Hill Community Survey was conducted by about 100 deputies and law enforcement volunteers. They focused on the neighborhoods between 40th Street West and 52nd Street West, bordered by Avenue L to the north, and Avenue M to the south.
Seeking to identify policing issues important to residents, the survey is the fourth conducted throughout the county. The program, which rotates through specific communities throughout Los Angeles County, uses the survey results to concentrate patrol resources on local crime concerns, while increasing community relations with local law enforcement.
The survey also revealed that 38 percent of residents believe they are “somewhat safe” after dark, compared to 27 percent who said they felt “safe” and 21 percent who admitted to being “extremely safe” after dark.
The numbers for community nuisances showed that “traffic,” at 54.2 percent, was a top concern for residents. The transient problem was the second-most concern at 23.1 percent, followed by “loud parties” at 12.6 percent, rundown buildings at 5.2 percent, and “junk yards/cars” at 4.9 percent.
Captain Nelson said that personnel resources from the Sheriff’s department will be allocated and redirected to address the issues of concern identified through the survey.
“The purpose of this is to utilize resources from the Special Operations Bureau, Reserve Forces Bureau, and our Community Law Enforcement Partnership basically to be more responsive to issues residents experience,” he said.
More specifically, the Quartz Hill survey area (and surrounding areas) will receive an intervention period that includes 90-120 days of enforcement missions, constant analysis of enforcement efforts for this duration, as well as ongoing “sustainability and maintenance of the area,” according to Sheriff’s officials.
“It’s probably a misnomer to say that it is just Quartz Hill, and the reason for that is if we find there’s a nexus between West Lancaster and East Lancaster, should we find, let’s say, a team of burglars working the surrounding areas, then we’re going to go find them regardless (of the survey area),” Captain Nelson told members of the community.
One concerned resident at the meeting asked the captain how exactly the temporary enforcement teams would help address the local issues highlighted by the survey.
“What you have to look forward to is anywhere between 90 and 120 days of extra patrols and extra personnel that will be up here working on the actions plans that were developed from the surveys,” he said. “Once the Special Operations Bureau people move on to the next target area (in Los Angeles County), the ability to maintain the gains that we experience will be the responsibility of the local patrol deputies that are assigned here already – as well as some of the personnel from the Special Operations Bureau.”
He pointed out that enforcement teams and patrol deputies encourage community engagement through Neighborhood Watch groups, information sharing, and active participation in general from all stakeholders.
“Clearly we can’t do this on our own,” he said. “What is really needed is community engagement if we are going to be successful.”
Captain Nelson also told members of the community that Lancaster deputies in the last year have made about 9,000 observations in Quartz Hill, meaning either patrol-related contacts or traffic stops. In addition, about 260 arrests were made in the last year “for a variety of offenses.” In terms of violent crimes, there have been no homicides in Quartz Hill in the last year, and violent assaults “comparably appear to be fairly low,” Captain Nelson said.
“The (March 14) survey results aren’t really a surprise to me, because we look through our current crime stats regularly, and I would have expected ‘thefts’ to be the number one issue here,” he said.
Captain Nelson also said that part of the criteria determined for the Lancaster Sheriff’s Station most recent community survey was that it take place in an unincorporated area. He said that Lancaster will receive its next rotation for an LASD community survey in about one year, and he plans to host the targeted area in East Lancaster.