A crowd of speakers, some angry and some tearful, appeared before West Hollywood’s Public Safety Commission tonight to complain that the Sheriff’s Station is moving too slowly to identify the men who assaulted Kirk Doffing in the city’s Boystown nightlife area on Memorial Day weekend.
Doffing was assaulted around 9 p.m. on May 24 near the intersection of Santa Monica and San Vicente boulevards by one of a group of three to four Hispanic men. Doffing, his skull crushed, remains in a medically induced coma at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
Doffing, 45, is a resident of West Hollywood and an accountant with the medical practice of Dr. Joel Aronowitz, a Los Angeles plastic surgeon. Tonight’s speakers included Aronowitz and a number of Doffings’ co-workers as well as personal friends.
Aronowitz said he felt Sheriff’s deputies investigating the attack lacked a sense of urgency. Noting that they had spoken to someone who claimed to have witnessed the attacker, he asked why the deputies don’t yet have a sketch of the suspect, who was said to have a mustache and be wearing a black trench coat. He and others also complained that the deputies haven’t yet obtained possible security videos from area businesses. Sgt. J.R. Klaus said deputies were trying to obtain security tapes from local businesses that might be helpful, but that the process was complicated by a number of issues, including that some businesses had to obtain permission from corporate headquarters to turn over such evidence.
Speakers also argued that the city should improve lighting on Santa Monica Boulevard and side streets in the nightlife area and install security cameras. And several said that deputies should be required to walk the sidewalks rather than just drive by in squad cars. West Hollywood contracts with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department for public safety services, and Sheriff’s deputies cruise the city’s streets in their cars rather than walk the sidewalks. The Sheriff’s Station does, however, have two foot patrols in the Boystown at some busy times. There also is a bicycle safety patrol team that operates in the area, however its members are not law enforcement officers and must alert the Sheriff’s Station if they see crime.
Ruth Williams, a member of the Public Safety Commission, said the attack angered her. “We want to see these guys caught as much as you all do,” she said. However she noted that some issues, such as making recommendations on installing better street lighting, were outside the purview of the Public Safety Commission. She suggested however that the Commission discuss the idea of more foot patrols, increased lighting and a possible expansion of the bicycle safety team at its next meeting. Commissioner Marcy Norton urged the speakers to attend Public Facilities and Transportation commission meetings to press their case for improvements in lighting and other matters also to speak before the City Council.
Robert Burke, the Commission’s chair, said he has been talking with city staffers and Council members and wants to know why there isn’t more information on the attack. Burke said street lighting in the area needs to be improved and there needs to be more deputies on foot in the area. He also said the city needs to move quickly. “When a person’s life is involved, it should not take six months,” he said.
Kristin Cook, the city’s public safety director, said city staffers will recommend to the City Council on Monday that it increase the budget for the bicycle security force, known as the Block by Block Security Ambassadors, by $100,000.
Doffing’s family has mounted a campaign by posting flyers to encourage anyone who might have witnessed the attack or seen the attackers to contact the Sheriff’s Station. Capt. Gary Honings of the Sheriff’s Station has asked that anyone with information about the assailants contact the Sheriff’s Station’s watch commander or Detective Michael Berbiar at (310) 855-8850.
Doffing’s attack is the most serious in a series of attacks in the Boystown nightlife area.