We would love to hear the police’s side of the story

BP Drawing by Sara Sobolev

By the BP Editorial Board

Plastered on the side of every LAPD police car is a motto: “To Protect and to Serve.” It’s a promise that the Los Angeles Police Department makes to us, and one we trust them to follow through on. The expectation is that they will keep us safe with speed and with efficacy.

We should all find it concerning, then, that LA police took nearly 25 minutes to respond in person to an emergency call from 18-year-old alumna Annie Asch, who had locked herself in a bedroom closet as two burglars pillaged her home. Police officers were so slow to get there because Annie’s call had likely been categorized as a “Code 2,” or medium-priority emergency. They sent a helicopter right away, but police on the ground were apparently not authorized to use sirens to get there faster.

We at the Boiling Point are baffled by the Police department’s leisurely response to a crime-in-progress that clearly needed police presence as quickly as possible. Almost anyone would agree that leaving an 18-year-old girl trapped in a house with two intruding criminals to fend for herself is a bad idea.

The LAPD might have a good explanation for the long time they took to arrive at Annie’s house, but if they do they’re not telling us. Though we called an information line repeatedly to find out, police officials only picked up twice. They would not share any specific information about the incident and they told us to wait for a call from another office. State law to the contrary. they wouldn’t show us the public police record because we were just from a high school newspaper.

The police force has a lot to deal with, and it may be difficult for them to quickly shift their operations and address a crime that’s out of the way.  Certainly we owe them a tremendous gratitude for the massive decrease in crime they’ve achieved in the past couple decades by focusing on higher-crime areas. But they can’t let those of us who don’t live in South Central or downtown fall through the cracks.

Luckily, Annie was unharmed, but she was put at huge  risk. In 25 minutes, intruders could have seriously hurt someone in her position. If it had been a different set of criminals, who knows what would have happened?

   The LAPD should revise its procedures to keep things like this from happening. First and foremost, it needs to reevaluate its emergency coding system, which in its current state apparently labeled Annie’s dangerous emergency as not significant enough to justify disrupting traffic with a siren. If it can take so long to respond to an emergency that’s this immediate, then we’re all at risk, particularly in areas where police are spread thin.  Maybe sirens should be allowed more easily if a police car starts farther from the scene.

Second, they need to answer our questions and identify themselves on the phone.  An official spokesman in the LAPD Office of Media Relations should not be anonymous. He also should release public records to the public, and not discriminate on the basis of age or status.

If the LAPD are going to effectively serve and protect us, they need to arrive at the scene of the crime with enough time to save us.  Knowing what delayed their response to Annie, whether or not it needs changing, would let us all breathe a little easier.

 That, too, is part of what it means to protect and serve.

Related: Alumna safe after LAPD takes 25 minutes to arrive at home invasion robbery in Beverlywood