Cindy Larimore was upset last week after police kept her and a good many other Echo Park residents up for several hours on Wednesday night as they searched in vain for a suspect. It was not so much the noise that bothered her as it was the officers who trampled through her yard, broke padlocks on neighbors’ gates and barked orders at her family. When she asked officers for names and badge numbers, they refused and were dismissive. “That night was just a display of how bad they could be. They were just rude. They were destructive.”
She was surprised the next day when one of the officers from previous night’s search appeared at her home. Larimore’s husband feared Sgt. Victor Arellano was there to arrest his wife. Instead, Arrellano was there to present what he called an “olive branch.” Said Arrellano: “It was my way to apologize.”
Arellano, who works with the Northeast Division’s gang unit, had met Larimore the night before as a small army officers, police dogs and a helicopter descended on her corner of Echo Park near Alvarado Street and Berkeley Avenue.
A suspected car thief and gang member who had twice before eluded police in Silver Lake and the Rampart area had been spotted in Echo Park on Alvarado Street. After the suspect was detained and handcuffed, another man with a gun approached the officers, Arellano said. As officers were distracted by the man with the gun, the suspected car thief, still in hand cuffs, ran off. Officers were able to quickly catch the man with the gun but spent several hours in a fruitless search for the suspected auto thief. It was during this time that Larimore complained to Arellano and others about the officers’ behavior.
After hearing Larimore’s complaints, Arellano advised his team of officers still gathered in Echo Park that night about trying to be “more respectful” with citizens even during such stressful conditions. Larimore appreciated that but said it fell short of what was needed: an apology. “They were nice,” she said of Arellano and other supervisors. “They were not just very remorseful. They didn’t want to admit fault.”
On Thursday afternoon, Arrellano was back at Larimore’s home with a new padlock to replace the one officers had broken the night before on a neighbor’s gate. Arellano described the padlock as his “olive branch” to Larimore and her family. “If we break something, we try to make it right,” Arrellano said. “If I have to go back to her house, I want to make sure that we are Okay.”
Larimore accepted the “olive branch” and apology. After moving to Echo Park five years ago, Larimore said she appreciates the police and has noticed a decline in crime but just did not agree with how they handled the situation last week . “I appreciate that they are here,” Larimore said. “I would rather have them here than the alternatives.”