While relatively few Latinos hold power at the highest echelons in California and local government, you can always count on a continuum of politicians touting how they personally support Latino communities and understand their priorities and needs.

Some elected leaders even eat Mexican food and break out poor Spanish to connect with Latinos/as/x and earn their valuable votes.

Then why do so many Latinos tick off enumerable problems in their neighborhoods, from a sense of fear from thugs and police alike to a desire to live a better life given how hard they work and how much tax dollars they contribute to public coffers? On the other hand, more Latinos feel safe in their spaces than you may think, some even congratulate the cops who patrol the area.

As primary elections are now a memory and the general elections appear on the horizon, CALÓ NEWS caught up with Latinos on the streets to let them voice what they want and need from public officials and local government.

Responses are edited for brevity and clarity.


SAMUEL MARIN, 27, South Central, Program coordinator, He/Him, Latino/Hispanic

Samuel Marin

HOW SAFE DO YOU FEEL IN YOUR CITY?

I feel pretty safe, but I stay aware and I’m always on high alert. I know what neighborhood blocks and what areas to avoid. Being tall and assertive is a good advantage because It makes me feel confident and comfortable anywhere I go. L.A. is getting more dangerous every day, more than usual, so who knows how safe It really is out there?

HOW SAFE DO YOU FEEL IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD?

I feel safer in my neighborhood than in other places. I know the people, they know me, and I know the streets like the back of my hand. I don’t cause problems or go looking for problems and I treat everyone with the same respect they give me.

HOW SAFE DO YOU FEEL AT HOME?

I do feel safe at home, but I know that the reality is that anything can happen in the ‘hood, but for the most part I do feel safe in my own home with my parents.

HOW SAFE DO POLICE MAKE YOU FEEL?

The police do not make me feel safe at all. They can come into a situation and make things worse. My anxiety goes up when dealing with the police. I know not all cops are bad, but it’s hard to ignore all that has happened involving the police. 

DO YOU BELIEVE GUN OWNERSHIP EQUALS MORE SAFETY?

I do believe in supporting gun ownership, but with the proper training. I can not stress that part enough. The training is far more important to me.

WHICH PARTY DOES A BETTER JOB OF PROVIDING PUBLIC SAFETY, DEMOCRATS OR REPUBLICANS? 

I feel like for the most part, many people avoid politics. It’s just easier to avoid getting into any controversies, but I feel neutral for both political parties.

OLIVER JIMENEZ, 29, Montebello, City commissioner, He/Him, Mexican

Oliver Jimenez

HOW SAFE DO YOU FEEL IN YOUR CITY?

I have lived in the city of Montebello for over 15 years and I can say that I have felt very safe in my city. I attribute the safety of our community to our outstanding Police Department and the dedicated residents of our neighborhood watch program.

HOW SAFE DO YOU FEEL IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD?

I feel very safe in my neighborhood. Every month we gather with our neighborhood to talk over any concerns or safety updates. We also have a text group to stay in communication with each other if we see anything that is suspicious in our neighborhood. 

HOW SAFE DO YOU FEEL AT HOME?

I feel very safe at home, my home is part of a condominium complex that is gated. This brings a lot of safety because we can spot if someone doesn’t belong in the complex. My home also has a security system with cameras.

HOW SAFE DO POLICE MAKE YOU FEEL?

Our city has an amazing police department. I can’t say enough about their dedication and service to our community. It is thanks to the creative outreach that our police department has that all residents feel part of the efforts to make our community safe. From our neighborhood safety meetings to our citizen’s patrol program, there is always something that our residents can take part in.

DO YOU BELIEVE GUN OWNERSHIP EQUALS MORE SAFETY?

I do believe that people have the right to legally own a gun to protect their property and life, but we do not need military-style assault guns to protect ourselves. Currently in our country gun ownership doesn’t equal better safety.

WHICH PARTY DOES A BETTER JOB OF PROVIDING PUBLIC SAFETY, DEMOCRATS OR REPUBLICANS?

I’m a Democrat, but I’m an American first and believe that both parties have not done enough for public safety. We still have a lot of work to do, and we need to start working together. Public safety is not a Democrat or Republican issue, it is something that affects all of us regardless of who we voted for in the last election. For me, public safety is preventing, not acting after something happened, this is the only way we will make our communities, our cities, states and our country safer. It’s time we put our political ideology aside and start using common sense.

ANDREW AMADOR, 24, Delivery driver, Boyle Heights, He/Him, Mexican/Latino

Andrew Amador

HOW SAFE DO YOU FEEL IN YOUR CITY?

I don’t feel safe at all in the city of Los Angeles. I always have to scan everywhere I go. I’m always on high alert every time I’m outside, in public and even on my own porch. It’s infested with gangs, other tagging crews that are basically gangs, homeless people and drug addicts.

HOW SAFE DO YOU FEEL IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD?

In Boyle Heights, I feel a little safer because I know the area. I still have to be on high alert because drug addiction and homelessness are rising. It’s not safe anymore. I’m lucky I know who’s in what gang when there is tension between gangs, and I’m always walking through the neighborhood on the watch for any threats in my community. Overall, I don’t feel safe every day. I have to be on high alert, making sure no one is trying to harm my community.

HOW SAFE DO YOU FEEL AT HOME?

I don’t feel safe in my home. I’ve experienced burglary and homeless people wandering in my yard at night stealing from my yard, as well. The homeless always look in our trash cans when we have them out for pick up.

HOW SAFE DO POLICE MAKE YOU FEEL?

Police make me feel safe. Hollenbeck Police Station is two minutes away from my house so they respond quickly to my calls.

DO YOU BELIEVE GUN OWNERSHIP EQUALS MORE SAFETY?

Yes, I believe gun ownership equals better safety because good civilians will be able to protect themselves from bad people who most likely already have guns illegally. This leaves us feeling helpless and in this time of age. With mass shootings and a high rate of violence and crime, we need to be protected. Obviously, I would want there to be a process for getting a gun, like a psychological evaluation and background check, fees every month or year. We need to make the process of getting a gun to be obtainable to a good law buying citizen difficult for non-law-abiding citizens.

WHICH PARTY DOES A BETTER JOB OF PROVIDING PUBLIC SAFETY, DEMOCRATS OR REPUBLICANS?

I don’t care about federal politics because my voting power is stronger in my city and in my state. I only care about city and state politics.

VANESSA RAQUEL WYATT, Hollywood, Small business owner, She/Her, Latina

Vanessa Raquel Wyatt

HOW SAFE DO YOU FEEL IN YOUR CITY?

I don’t feel safe in most places in Los Angeles. I’m constantly looking around and ensuring I’m aware of my surroundings. 

HOW SAFE DO YOU FEEL IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD?

In my neighborhood of Hollywood, I feel especially unsafe. It has gotten worse over the past two years.

HOW SAFE DO YOU FEEL AT HOME?

I feel somewhat safer at home because my apartment building is very secure. You can’t access the building without a key FOB. There’s also 24-hour security working. They have increased security staff since last year. 

HOW SAFE DO POLICE MAKE YOU FEEL?

Things can happen in an instant, so I’m not really thinking about the police. 

DO YOU BELIEVE GUN OWNERSHIP EQUALS MORE SAFETY?

It depends on who the gun owners are, but in general no. There definitely needs to be better gun regulations. 

WHICH PARTY DOES A BETTER JOB OF PROVIDING PUBLIC SAFETY, DEMOCRATS OR REPUBLICANS?

I’m disappointed in both parties. Look at all the tragedies that have occurred this year alone. It’s very heartbreaking. Public safety shouldn’t be about political parties, it needs to be about human beings. 

JORDAN UMANA, 23, Maywood, Quality assurance specialist, He/Him, Hispanic

Jordan Umana

HOW SAFE DO YOU FEEL IN YOUR CITY?

I feel rather safe in my city. I haven’t had any problems with anyone.

HOW SAFE DO YOU FEEL IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD?

My neighborhood is filled with lovely people which makes the living experience pleasant. 

HOW SAFE DO YOU FEEL AT HOME?

My home is my sanctuary. Anyone may feel welcome once you enter. 

HOW SAFE DO POLICE MAKE YOU FEEL?

I try my best to feel secure with the police. However, at times they come off daunting. I work with them and most of them are great people. 

DO YOU BELIEVE GUN OWNERSHIP EQUALS MORE SAFETY?

I don’t mind if you have a gun, yet more guns do not equal more safety, security and peace of mind. If those who own such a powerful weapon are not stable minded then havoc will come near. 

WHICH PARTY DOES A BETTER JOB OF PROVIDING PUBLIC SAFETY, DEMOCRATS OR REPUBLICANS?

Both parties have faults that must be worked on, yet, Republicans can have a better handle on public safety.

Amairani Hernandez

Amairani Hernandez is a native of Los Angeles and a graduate of the California State University of Los Angeles with a degree in Broadcast Journalism. She is a freelancer and focuses on stories about Latinos,...