I moved to L.A. back in the mid-80's from Kent, OH, a town so small compared to L.A. that it might be deemed "rural." My first experiences in L.A. with the police helicopter occurred when I lived for one quarter, as a grad student at UCLA, near the intersection of Washington and LaBrea.


As I was going through the culture shock of having moved away from the future mother of my oldest child, living in a 3 bedroom house with a large front and back yard with a creek running through it to a 2 bedroom dwelling with 4 adults and 5 children, I encountered the LAPD every night, buzzing around our house and flashing the lights trough the windows. It was so trauma inducing that I changed my sleep schedule to correspond with the nightly patrol of the LAPD helicopter.


They flew circular patterns over all the homes in that area, EVERY NIGHT! They are so prominent in L.A. County that they've been institutionalized. For instance, the homes in L.A. have the addresses painted on the roofs; in Compton the location and size of trees along the streets are designed to accommodate the nightly helicopter patrols. 


After having lived all over that area from Orange County to Saugus and from 42nd & Vermont to West Covina, I can definitely attest to the fact that the helicopter patrols of the LAPD were the most disturbing when I lived on Washington and LaBrea. Every night at 10pm, without fail, the helicopters went into their nightly circle patterns over our neighborhood flooding the neighborhood with enough light to turn night into day.


In order for me to get to school and be somewhat well rested I took to retiring before 10pm and waking at 3am to get in the bathroom before the other 8 residents of the house. I took long baths and made something to eat for lunch, arriving at the bus stop at 6am for my daily 2 hour commute to UCLA, which was about 17 miles west of Washington and LaBrea.


I recall during this time that one of the predominating thoughts on my mind was who should I be afraid of the most, the gangs or the police. I debated this question for some time. I NEVER had any encounters with gang members during that 10 week stay, but I designed my schedule with the police helicopters first and foremost in my mind.


Here's my question of the day. Is the LAPD a terrorist organization or an occupying army. Certainly, other people that I knew at that time had encounters with the LAPD and with gang members and it was always confrontational in either case. One of these friends was shot by a gang member not far from where we lived, outside of a home where people were partying. He died in the hospital a few days later, without ever seeing any of his family members, because nobody responded to attempts by the police dept. to contact them. In this part of L.A. the Po-Po are as feared, if not more feared than the gang members. Are these nightly, Vietnam style, flyovers a help, or a hindrance in the war on crime? That's the question. Are these air patrols conducted to stop crime or terrorize the residents? Someone needs to do a serious study on that!!

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Comment by Kofi Khemet on July 1, 2011 at 9:57am
What's going on in your neighborhood, right now with helicopter patrols?

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