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LAPD: In stores, keep hoodie on, but lower the hood

March 30, 2012 | 12:30 pm

Alan Hamilton
Donning a hoodie is now a political statement in the wake of the Trayvon Martin killing in Florida. But don't tell that to the members of LAPD's North Hollywood Division. They like the hoodies on but with the hoods down.

In fact, they started a campaign in October called "Hats Off" to help store owners in North Hollywood and Studio City avoid becoming crime victims.

Under the program, customers of stores in the two San Fernando Valley communities -- which were hit by a string of robberies last year -- are asked to take off their hats and pull their sweatshirt hoods off their heads before entering.

LAPD Lt. Alan Hamilton says it is an age-old strategy to ensure owners know who is entering their place of business.

"The LAPD isn't anti-hoodie. If you walk into the LAPD Academy, one of the first things you will see selling are LAPD hoodies," Hamilton said. "We are not asking you to take off your hoodie. Just take down the hood when you enter a business. It is not raining in the bank."

Hamilton explained that, historically, criminals often wear headgear to shield their faces during robberies and break-ins, including a rash of jewelery heists in Southern California committed by hoodie-wearing men trying to hide their identities from surveillance cameras.

Participation among store owners has been good, he said. The crimes have declined significantly since the campaign began in the fall. 

Oxnard implemented a similar policy in 2009. The crime-fighting technique took off during the last decade in Britain, where hoodies became strongly associated with crime.

But it is hardly new. The anti-crime tool dates at least to King Carlos III of Spain, who banned the wearing of broad-brimmed hats in the 1700s to deter robberies and other crimes.

Hamilton says he owns hoodies.

"I wear my hoodie when I run, but you walk into a store, how hard is it to take the hood down?"

-- Richard Winton

Photo: LAPD Lt. Alan Hamilton in 2008. Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times