Past President Tom Barron provided this introduction of Captain Jonathan Tom:
Today we are privileged to hear from a local product who has risen to the position of Commanding Officer for the West Los Angeles Division of the Los Angeles Police Department, Captain Jonathan Tom. Captain Tom was born and raised in L.A., a proud fifth generation Angeleno. He went to L.A. Unified schools, attending University High School and graduated from USC.
He formerly served as the Commanding Officer of the Critical Incident Review Division, which is responsible for facilitating the review and adjudication of uses of force on behalf of the Chief of Police. This position also provided administrative support and training to officers, supervisors and command personnel.
Captain Tom has worked assignments in all four geographic bureaus, giving him experience in various communities, including Commanding Officer of these units: South Traffic Division, Rampart Patrol Division, Olympic Detective Division and the Southwest Area Vice Unit. On his way up the ladder, he served as investigator at the Professional Standards Bureau and Detective Headquarters Division – a gun unit. He was also firearms instructor at Training Division, on patrol at the Special Problems Unit in the West Valley, West L.A. and Southwest divisions.
Captain Tom has had an opportunity to work in different leadership positions during special events such as the space shuttle Endeavour to the California Science Center, Academy Awards, and NHL and NBA championships, among others.
Captain Tom is a member of the department’s peer support cadre, board member for a law enforcement association and a former delegate for the Los Angeles Protective League.
His personal philosophy is for all personnel to work hard, treat each other with respect, and provide service to the community, as if the people you are dealing with were your family.
Although Captain Tom will address home protection, he is open to other areas of concern you may have.
Rotarians, let us welcome our Police Commander for the Westside, Captain Jonathan Tom.
Before Captain Tom discussed the issue of “Home Protection” from the Los Angeles Police Department perspective and other issues of importance to the citizens of Westwood, he introduced SLO Pete Ojeda - 19 years on July 1, in W.L.A. for 16 years, patrol officer, Narcotics, Vice Division, Special Projects, plain clothes, field training officer. Currently he is our liaison regarding any community issues and problems. He speaks with his officers every day within a large geographic range that covers Westwood Village. His email is: firstname.lastname@example.org. He is here to answer any questions. Feel free to reach out to him anytime at that email. We thanked him for coming in on his day off, even after working the UCLA Undie run last night!
Captain Tom grew up in L.A. – his family has been here for 140 years – and his family owned the New Moon Restaurant on 9th and San Pedro, which closed in 1992 after the riots. (Some may even have seen him doing homework at the tables or sleeping with the chairs pushed together) He graduated from University High in 1987 and then attended USC. He spent one year at Whittier Law School, which was not for him. So, he talked to his boss’s husband, who was a Deputy Chief overseeing West Bureau, who loved his job. Now he has been with the LAPD for 25 years, starting his probation in West L.A., and may end as Captain, where he has served for the last 5 years. This past year has been especially difficulty with morale, but the community has been very supportive and has kept his team motivated. The West Los Angeles Division covers 65 miles of area to protect (all of S.F. would fit in his jurisdiction).
Your home should feel like a sanctuary and be safe, but with current events and what is on the news, there is a sense of unease with homelessness exploding and burglaries rising. Although, recently, there have been many arrests with special task forces and a decrease in burglaries from these “flocking crews” of various gang members who have come together.
Shared Home Burglary Tips sheet
1. Lock up your car, home, garage doors, backyard doors, windows
2. Make the house look occupied, because they are less likely to break in if you’re home
3. Have good relations with your neighbors – pay attention to each other’s properties if gone, take mail off porch, etc.
4. If you have a Security System, turn it on
5. Video Doorbells
7. Inventory of valuable items – keep serial numbers to match up if belongings aretaken
If you suspect an intruder is in your home do NOT enter, phone 911.
Think about National Geographic and the lion stalking the wildebeest. They are never looking at the prey that are looking back AT them, they are looking for the ones that are not looking and not paying attention. Human predators are no different and want easy targets so that they can get away.
Don’t necessarily confront them but maybe go out of your way to wave and say "HI" and ask how they are doing, do they need anything. Trying to establish communication may cause those that may be surveilling your neighborhood to move on if there is too many aware neighbors around.
He answered questions.
Tom Barron asked about protests at Federal Building, why Wilshire was closed – why does that happen and then we can’t move around as easily?
Captain: Police need to facilitate your 1st amendment right of freedom to speech. LAPD does not want to shut down traffic but as they have seen in the past, the Federal Building is a symbol. Crowds can grow and not stay contained on the sidewalk, so in those instances it is necessary for safety to redirect traffic.
If it becomes an unlawful assembly, things become complicated, but LAPD does not want to become the story. Three key considerations are:
1. Protect life and property
2. Facilitate freedom of speech
3. Don’t become the story
Gordon: Is shoplifting not enforced if less than $900?
Captain: Under $900 is considered a misdemeanor and it is up to store to press charges.
Stores do not want to become “the story” but now they are willing to prosecute because the shrinkage is so high that some stores have had to shut down.
Phil asked about morale and how are they dealing with it and where do they live?
Captain Tom: Officer Next Door programs used to exist but many cannot afford to live in L.A.
He personally has struggled, feeling that they are not appreciated, valued, or want you there (like in any difficult relationship). They have lost over 5,000 officers (15%) due to retirements and early retirements.
In New York, those with over 20 years of service are looking at each other like, “Why are you still here?”
L.A. is on track to lose 600 officers in one year. They have not been replaced. One Police Academy class has about 40 graduates; they are down 540 officers from where we were last year so that has changed how they handle operations. They now do online reporting, have downsized certain areas and task forces, such as animal cruelty. The morale impact is incalculable but there is a lot of conversation happening around this.
Our particular community has given so much support, which lifts their morale. They are being very productive and are still engaged and doing their job but it is complicated. Most do this job because they have a heart of service, not for the money.
What will public safety look like in the future if we make it so difficult for police officers to do their jobs?
Benjamin: Lives in Mar Vista – What would you do if you lived in my community? He doesn’t know what to do.
Captain Tom: How can you impact the policy and personally what can I do? Stay persistent with your elected officials for what you want. And stay aware and prepared.
Diane thanked him for his service and said he and his team consistently show up to their Brentwood neighborhood meetings and are always accessible and responsive and she appreciates the terrific job they do.
- Commentary by PP Aly Shoji