There’s a new sheriff in town, so to speak. After 14 years of dedicated service as the Los Angeles Police Department’s senior lead officer for Toluca Lake, Rob Benavidez has moved on to Valley Village and our neighborhood is getting acquainted with incoming Senior Lead Officer (SLO) Kurtis Delbar.
“I would like the residents of Toluca Lake to know that I am hardworking, attentive, eager to help and very interested in working cooperatively to assist in solving recurring community problems,” Delbar introduces himself. He’s also well acquainted with the territory — a native of the San Fernando Valley, the 12-year LAPD veteran served at Valley Traffic Division before coming to North Hollywood Area, where he’s spent the last eight years working patrol, intermittently assigned to Toluca Lake.
“I was surprised by how well organized and efficient Toluca Lake is,” Delbar says of his first impressions working here. “I like everything about it, especially the amount of community pride that the residents have for their neighborhood.” It’s a quality he looks forward to building upon in his new role, which he began in mid-April.
SLOs are essentially liaisons between the LAPD and the various communities it serves. Each is in charge of a “Basic Car” patrol beat within their respective geographic division of the department; North Hollywood Area, for example, has eight Basic Cars. The SLOs are tasked with monitoring crime trends and quality-of-life problems, developing relationships with community groups, and keeping fellow officers, detectives and department leadership apprised of the area’s public safety issues and strategies for resolving them. As North Hollywood Captain Donald Graham explains it, “Is he or she a community leader, a crime strategist, a public relations officer, a problem solver, a training officer, a street cop, an innovator, a youth developer, a program director, an investigator, a liaison? In fact, a SLO is all of those things.” That’s a hefty job, but as Graham continues, “Each one of my SLOs is a very special and talented officer. They have experience, wisdom, communication skills, leadership qualities and a commitment to improve their Basic Car. In short, they have ownership of that community.”
Delbar is excited to take on the challenge in Toluca Lake. “As a senior lead officer, I can place all my efforts in the area I was assigned instead of working the entire division of North Hollywood,” he says. That means he can concentrate on achieving his goals, most notably “improving communication and cohesiveness between the community and the police.” Some of the major public safety concerns he wants to address are solicitors in the neighborhood and traffic education and enforcement, such as “the stop signs along Camarillo and the inability to safely execute a turn onto Camarillo.”
Asked about his security advice for residents, at the top of his list is “lighting, lighting, lighting,” a key element in preventing burglaries, robberies and other crimes, along with keeping doors locked on homes and vehicles, keeping garages closed and having functional alarm systems — neatly summed up with the slogan “Lock It, Hide It, Keep It.” Beyond that, Delbar recommends having “a basic vigilance, paying attention to one’s surroundings and looking out for each other.” And, of course, “Open lines of communication between neighbors is paramount in safety.”On a personal level, Delbar shares that he loves “anything outdoors, active and related to playing sports.” On the job, his favorite things include “finding creative ways to solve problems and puzzles while still remaining within the confines of the law. I also really enjoy interacting with members of the community and getting to know them.” He can typically be found in Toluca Lake on a daily basis when he’s working, so next time you see him out and about, be sure to take a moment to introduce yourself and say hello! Together, we can all do our part to keep our neighborhood connected, safe and secure.