The public stairways that wind their way through the hills of Echo Park, Silver Lake, Mount Washington and other neighborhood have been re-discovered by many thanks to new books and tours. But, as the L.A. Weekly points out, some residents who live near the stairs wish they were locked up for good, with many complaining about everything from graffiti and trash to criminal activity and loud exercise buffs.
Echo Park senior lead officer Bobby Hill, in an interview with the Weekly, recounts how gang members have used the stairs to their advantage:
Bobby Hill, LAPD’s senior lead officer for Echo Park/Elysian Valley, agreed that staircase neighbors are disproportionately vulnerable to crime. The Northeast Community Police Station, which covers two to three hundred thousand people, receives at least two to three calls a day regarding stairways.
“Where there’s a higher concentration of known gang members [in Echo Park], they use those stairs to conduct their business,” Hill said, citing numerous examples off the top of his head of drug dealers and car thieves who took advantage of the cover provided by the stairs to commit crimes or escape the police.
“That’s a hell of a head start, especially if they know the routes,” he said. “It does make apprehending them very, very difficult.”