August 3, 2021
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first_imgSometimes it takes a village – at least that’s the approach Van Nuys residents are taking to deal with the long-standing issue of prostitution in their neighborhood. Joining forces with the City Council and the Los Angeles Police Department, residents are picking up signs, flashlights and cameras to participate in monthly marches through the streets of their neighborhood. They begin after dark and walk the streets until midnight. The idea is to send a message to streetwalkers and their johns. “Families in this neighborhood are fed up with this issue,” said Ron Hay, a Van Nuys resident for 10 years. Usually the women work a circuit, and the Sepulveda Boulevard corridor ranks among the top three locations in Southern California, police said. “Unfortunately, this has been going on for decades,” C rdenas said. “As a community, we feel compelled and obligated to do whatever we can to reduce this problem. Children in these neighborhoods should not have to look at the evidence of this problem on their walk to school every morning. They shouldn’t have to deal with that.” Residents are encouraged to bring still and video cameras to the marches, too. “This is the safest way let them know we are looking at them, we are watching them and we are recording them,” C rdenas said. “We can let them know they are not supposed to be doing that in our neighborhood.” The walks seem to be leading to results. Although authorities couldn’t provide specific numbers, Sgt. McNeill Gardner said he has seen a “significant drop in street prostitution.” “The women have seen the community’s involvement and they have started to shy away from the area,” said Gardner, who patrols the Van Nuys-North Hills area. With officers already stretched thin, he said it is a community program like this that can make a difference. “Law enforcement is 50percent police and 50percent community,” he said. “There is only so much we can do.” Hay said the organized effort has also created some side effects that have led to his neighborhood’s improvement. Extra lighting has been added to some streets, and extra officers have been assigned to key hot spots along the boulevard. For Hay, who is captain of his street’s Neighborhood Watch program and has several officers’ numbers on speed dial, community members need to realize that apathy is not an option. “So many people would rather stay home and ignore what’s going on,” he said. “But people need to become a part of the solution, not part of the problem. If you don’t, your neighborhood goes down the tubes.”160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREStriving toward a more perfect me: Doug McIntyre Hay said it is not uncommon for hookers to walk by as close as his driveway. “I have heard people screaming in a car having sex in front of my house. I have found condoms in the gutter,” he said. “It is just unpleasant.” Officer Ron Carter, who initiated the monthly marches, said the idea is to get those most affected involved in getting rid of the problem. “Community policing – that is where it all begins,” Carter said, adding that his vice officers regularly organize stings and undercover operations. Councilman Tony C rdenas, who helped put together the task force that launched the monthly marches, said as soon as he was elected, he heard from the community about the prostitution. last_img read more