WEST HOLLYWOOD—The Public Safety Commission of West Hollywood is petitioning the city council to consider installing public video cameras in busy areas of the city. The concern arises after a series of attacks in the Boystown nightlife area.

One of those attacks included the assault on Kirk Doffing, who was punched in the face several times on May 24 and left in a medically induced coma for several weeks. The attack encouraged over 50 people to attend the commission meeting, many of whom were from outside the area and claimed that public safety cameras had been effective in their neighborhoods.

Authorities have taken measures to improve public safety in the area. They have assigned four deputies on foot patrol six nights a week on the west side and one night a week on the east side, whereas previously they only had one individual on foot patrol. These measures have proven to be insufficient.

Cameras in West Hollywood have not been established because of privacy issues often associated with public cameras. Commission chairman, Robert Burked believes that there needs to be a balance between privacy and safety and thinks that installing cameras in this neighborhood will be effective.

Guidelines for the use of cameras would have to be established to make sure that the cameras are being used correctly. Some questions raised included who can have access to the videos, how they can be used and how long the footage can be retained.

Captain Gary Honings discusses public safety in a WeHo forum
Captain Gary Honings discusses public safety in a WeHo forum

Commissioner Shawn Hoffman also supported the installation of cameras in the neighborhood, saying that it would help identify people and prevent attacks, especially at nighttime. “I want prevention,” he said. “I want more boots on the ground.”

Mayor Lindsey Horvath responded to the attacks by hosting the public meeting “Coffee with the Captain.” Participating in the forum were Captain Gary Honings, head of the Sheriff’s Station and Lt. David Smith. At the meeting, Honings and Smith shared misconceptions about law enforcement, their progress in Doffing’s case and how the station is planning on improving safety. They also urged the public to communicate with them whenever possible, claiming that they could be very helpful in future investigations.

“You’re our eyes and ears on the street,” Smith told the crowd.

The council will further discuss the matter at their meeting on July 20.