The Alhambra Police Department responded to residents’ concerns about an alleged hate crime, parking permits, and mental health issues during Monday night’s community meeting at Fremont Elementary School.
Alhambra community meetings are held every couple of months and give police an opportunity to update residents about the latest crime trends and answer specific questions. Alhambra Police Chief Mark Yokoyama moderated the event alongside representatives from Alhambra police, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, and the Commission on Human Relations.
Yokoyama updated residents on the ongoing investigation of October's alleged hate crime against an African American family on Midwickhill Drive, saying that it remains a top priority and the department is still gathering more information on the incident.
“We haven’t received all analysis but we are all eagerly waiting results,” Yokoyama said, adding that the police department has asked for assistance from experts in the FBI and the L.A. Sheriff’s Department in order to identify the perpetrator.
A middle-aged resident, who claimed to be a member of the first African American family who moved to Alhambra, said that while it took her neighbors a while to speak with her, they recognized their similarities and now maintain a friendly relationship.
“They realized that we all eat the same food. We all like the same things. We’re all the same,” she said.
Parking was also a major concern of residents at the meeting. Several residents complained about parking enforcement's lack of consideration, and others said they still receive tickets even after purchasing parking permits.
“I’ve made an effort to go to the police station and buy a parking permit, but I still get a ticket just because I didn’t write my license number on it,” one resident said.
Another shared that she got a ticket only because the parking enforcer did not see the permit on her side window.
Yokoyama explained that parking regulations were set before he came to Alhambra in 2011, but promised to resolve the situation with Inter-Con Security, the company contracted by the city for parking enforcement.
“I understand your frustrations and I hear you loud and clear,” Yokoyama said.
Aide Zeller, a Midwick Tract resident, said she has paid more than $100 in parking fines. Zeller offered a suggestion to allot one free permit for every household, citing the increased number of cars.
“It used to be that most homes only have one car, but now they have three or four,” Zeller said.
Police also addressed the issues of mental illness in Alhambra. Corporal Jasper Kim said there has been an increase in mentally ill people in the city, up 26 to 27 percent from last year — 175 to 180 more individuals who are committed to the hospital.
Kim, along with two social workers from the Department of Mental Health, are qualified to evaluate residents and detain them for 72 hours if they are considered disabled or dangerous to themselves and others, according to Section 5150 of the California Welfare Institutions Code.
Members of the police department also reviewed crime trends. Auto burglary and car theft reports have gone down in Alhambra in 2013, according to the department's presentation. Residential burglary and robbery reports have gone up.