HOLLYWOOD (CBSLA) - With many people feeling Southern California is experiencing a violent crime wave, even prompting the head of the Los Angeles Police Department's union to warn tourists away, LAPD Chief Michel Moore tried to assure people that crime is not out of control in the city.
"My message to anyone thinking about coming to Los Angeles, especially during the holiday season, is don't," Jamie McBride, the head of the LA Police Protective League, the union representing LAPD officers, said in a television interview.
The message from McBride comes as what many residents and business owners view as a wave of crime slamming the city and surrounding areas.
"We can't guarantee your safety. It is really, really out of control. I said it to people before, it's like that movie 'Purge,' you know, instead of 24 hours to commit your crime, these people have 365 days days to commit whatever they want," McBride said.
His warning seems to resonate with some residents.
"It's pretty scary walking at night," said Sarah Veenstra, who moved to LA from Wisconsin about six months ago. She said she didn't realize crime and safety would be such an issue.
"I genuinely thought it would be a safe area. It turned out not be as safe as I thought. I'm definitely, like, carrying something on me every time I leave the house when it's dark out," she said.
Rampant crime continues. Some of the latest victims were hit at the downtown Intercontinental Hotel, where armed robbers stole an estimated $100,000 in jewelry early Tuesday morning.
That robbery comes on the tail of smash-and-grab, follow home and home invasion robberies, but Chief Moore on Tuesday tried to reassure the public.
"It's not out of control. It's not a spiral that we've lost control over. It is important that we not have a sense of acquiescing or just lackadaisical approach to this. We're calling out the severity of it," the police chief said.
Moore also noted that robberies are up nearly 5% compared to last year, but the rate is about 13% lower than 2019, before the pandemic.
Recently, 14 people were arrested for smash-and-grabs, but most of them have already been released.
"Eleven were released on zero bail and we need the criminal justice system to look at those offenses and recognize how to keep the most dangerous individuals off the street," Moore said.
During the pandemic, zero-bail policies were put in place for some crimes, like burglary. Chief Moore said he and LA County District Attorney George Gascón are in close communication.
"Gascón and I spoke as recently as Friday," Moore said, "and he assured me he will hold criminal offenders, violent criminal offenders, accountable."
While acknowledging the reality of what's been going on, Chief Moore said the city is relatively safe and he is welcoming tourists.
"I believe tourists coming to Los Angeles are safe. Certainly, as safe here as any other portion of the country."
Some tourists, though, have seen the headlines are aren't taking any chances.
"We just take Ubers everywhere and don't walk from place to place. So, that's about it," a tourist told CBSLA.
People out in Hollywood, who live here or are visiting, said they are just keeping an extra watch on their surroundings.
In a Tuesday press release, DA George Gascón said a press conference will be held Wednesday to outline the accomplishments made in the past year.
for more features.