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'No hats' campaign aims to deter Valley crime

October 12, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Police launched a "hats off" program Wednesday in two valley communities. It basically means this: if you want to do business there, you'll want to tip back that "hoodie" or take off that hat or helmet.

The signs are going up: if you shop or dine in North Hollywood or Studio City, your business is welcome but wearing hats, hooded sweatshirts or helmets is not.

"A lot of customers, they like it," said business owner Kamal Monchamel. "Once they see that poster on the door, right away out of respect, they take their hat or hoodie off and I believe it's a great idea."

The Los Angeles Police Department calls the campaign "Hats Off To Fight Crime." The department is asking businesses in North Hollywood and Studio City to post the sign and enforce it.

The goal is to prevent robberies where suspects wearing hoodies or hats get away with the loot because they can't be identified by surveillance cameras.

"This is something, much like a sign in a neighborhood, a neighborhood watch sign, that says 'We have an active community here, don't commit crimes here, don't commit burglaries here because our neighbors are looking out for each other,'" said LAPD Captain Justin Eisenberg.

Nick Pool loves the campaign. He's owned two 7-Eleven stores for more than 30 years and has had some close calls.

"The worst scenario was when I got robbed, I had just finished my bank deposit and I got robbed," said Pool. "The guy put a gun right in my face."

Pool believes the hats-off program will deter criminals.

"I think my employees will feel safer too because they can ask them to do that and just refer to the police sign," said Pool.

But some North Hollywood business owners are concerned the program, though well-intentioned, may be problematic.

"I get it," said Rasheedah Scott, a business owner. "I get what the LAPD's trying to do, and like I said, I applaud them on trying to come up with some kind of approach, but then it forces us to have to profile people and I don't really agree with that."


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