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Man murdered in view of broken Skid Row surveillance cameras

January 5, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
The Los Angeles City Council is calling on the Los Angeles Police Dept. to explain a security gap. Many of the department's downtown security cameras aren't working. Two were down when a man was recently stabbed to death within sight of the cameras.

In L.A.'s Skid Row, a small crime wave unfolded in front of LAPD security cameras: three attacks in four days.

In one attack, a 53-year-old man was beaten by a mob and stabbed to death, according to investigators.

Business operators in the Central City East Association had donated a $200,000 surveillance system to LAPD to safeguard the area. Two of its cameras might have helped identify a killer, but they were not working.

"The phone calls I have been getting from the stakeholders who wrote the checks for those cameras, they are not happy," said Estela Lopez, executive director, Central City East Assoc.

The broken system goes beyond Skid Row. LAPD has learned that one out of 10 of their downtown cameras is on the fritz.

"There is about 35 cameras and probably about 10 percent of them right now are fully functional. The rest of them are in various states: Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't," said LAPD Captain Andrew Smith.

Smith describes a patchwork of systems throughout the city, from MacArthur Park to Hollywood to Panorama City, each with a different grade of technology. And each with a different vendor contracted to maintain them. The snag is in Skid Row.

"We hired a vendor. That vendor started to work on them, and then that vendor went out of business. The maintenance vendor went out of business," said Smith.

LAPD has now tasked its technicians to review the system, fix or replace what's broken. As for the murder of the transient in view of a camera, there has not been an arrest.