Opinion: ‘Keep WeHo Safe’ Will Focus on Crime, Public Safety and the Politics Around That

  1. I was a Public Safety Commissioner for two years.

During my term I worked extremely hard — serving on multiple subcommittees, attending hundreds of meetings with residents, business owners, staff, council members and public safety officials, and I did my very best to serve the needs of the public while also attempting to navigate the treacherous minefield of City Hall politics. I asked a lot of tough questions and spoke up about important crime and safety topics of which no one else was willing to speak. Ultimately I was able to help enact a few changes. We shall see if they stick.

Ben Coleman

My term ended last Monday, July 10. I was not re-appointed by the Weho City Council as an at-large member of the commission, and was instead replaced by another person who I hope will be as tenacious as I was. Councilmember John D’Amico was my only vote.

I am not bitter or depressed because I was voted out of my position as a commissioner. I’m actually somewhat relieved, although my sense of duty and obligation makes me feel some disappointment that I wasn’t really able to fully finish what I felt I needed to do. Plus I was just starting to get the hang of it!

But now that I’m free of the politics of City Hall, it has dawned on me that I may return to what led me down the path of public service in the first place: Keep Weho Safe.

I started Keep Weho Safe as a Facebook and Twitter blog in 2011 with two former West Hollywood residents following a series of assaults and armed robberies against friends of ours — incidents that shocked me as a new resident of the city. I had previously perceived Weho as a safe, clean and fun place to hang out. When I moved here I discovered that my guard was down because of my perception that crime didn’t really happen here. But crime was happening — there just wasn’t really an outlet where people talked about it. So Keep Weho Safe was born.

Sharing victim’s stories and speaking out about glaring issues with crime prevention led me to politics and eventually an appointment on the Public Safety Commission two years ago. Due to the official nature of my appointment, I decided that Keep Weho Safe would go on autopilot and I would use the commission to express my activism.

Now that I’m off the Public Safety Commission, Keep Weho Safe will return in an even greater form. We have formed a team and set up an actual website for the blog (www.KeepWehoSafe.com) and added an Instagram account to the already established Facebook and Twitter (@KeepWehoSafe) pages, and will be covering issues of crime and safety as well as calling out challenges with the local political system when we see them. We want Keep Weho Safe to be the community’s method to be heard on issues of crime and safety and the politics that ensues. We will continue to pay attention and we will continue to speak out.

Today we launch the new blog with a post which expresses concerns about a City Hall-proposed plan to substitute the already-approved and much-debated “safety cameras” at key intersections with a series of techy “Big Brother” streetlights, which will apparently feature social media components and include cameras that track autos and pedestrians and monitor customers who enter private businesses. We think the new plan has serious privacy risks that need to be thoroughly debated.  It also throws under the bus the plan to imminently install actual Sheriff safety cameras (which are to be used solely in accordance with state and federal law to assist in catching criminals after a crime has occurred) in favor of a social media-oriented system. That system will take years to implement and supposedly will be used for marketing and business development and monitored by City Hall staff. We think it stinks to high heaven, and you can read more about that here.

Hopefully, I can use what I’ve learned from being outside the system, then as being a part of the system, and then back on the outside again to bring a unique perspective to the public safety narrative in West Hollywood. Please follow our efforts and participate as we attempt to Keep Weho Safe.

Tagged ben coleman, keep weho safe, safety cameras, west hollywood public safety commission

Ben Coleman

About Ben Coleman

Ben Coleman is a West Hollywood resident and public safety advocate who created Keep Weho Safe. He is a former member of the city’s Public Safety Commission and a member of the Safe WeHo Leadership Council.

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