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Wilmington United meets to fight rising crime

March 20, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
There was a big turnout Tuesday night the local community of Wilmington, where concerned residents came together to work for an end to an alarming rise in violent crimes. After eight murders in less than three months, there are increased police patrols on the streets of Wilmington. Residents say they're ready to do their part to take back their community.

Relatives of murder victims stood with other Wilmington residents Tuesday night at the meeting. They are determined to try to stop the wave of violent crimes in their community. Since January 1 there have been eight homicides in the area.

"We see the potential, that there are great people in Wilmington that want to make a difference," said one attendee at the meeting.

This first meeting of Wilmington United brought together school representatives, gang-prevention organizations, political leaders and church members to discuss problems with residents and encourage them to get involved.

"When we walk out that door tonight, people are going to have a mission," said L.A. City Councilman Joe Buscaino. "They're going to have some responsibility, and that's the importance of empowerment, the importance of uniting the community."

"I can see the neighborhood breaking down, and we need to do something about that," said Wilmington resident Viviane Goulet.

The Los Angeles Police Department has increased the number of officers on patrol in Wilmington, and in the last couple of weeks the number of serious crimes has dropped significantly.

Police say it's important for neighborhood residents to get to know each other and to be willing to speak up.

"When you don't know the person that lives two doors down from you when somebody walks out the door with that television, you don't care," said LAPD Captain William Hays. "When it's 'Joe's' television that they just walked out the door, you become involved and you pick up the phone and want to say, 'Hey, do something about that.'"

"For a long time Wilmington had a cloud over it. We don't want to see that anymore. We want to be proud to say we live in Wilmington, we work in Wilmington," said Wilmington resident Lizz Dominguez-Phillips. "We want this."

There will be an ongoing series of community meetings and police say they're making some progress, even making some arrests in murder investigations.