Vice detectives basically investigate crimes that occur in a particular community. They do sting operations. They do undercover operations, surveillance. They use informants. They do all sorts of things in order to catch people who are committing certain crimes. Examples are, a community is plagued with prostitution activities. The vice unit of that particular community – in this case the San Fernando Valley – would search out who is involved with these prostitution activities – whether they be prostitution, pimps or anybody involved. They would then try to infiltrate that activity and arrest the people who are involved. Sometimes they’ll put female officers out on the street posing as prostitutes with a bunch of other officers surrounding it. Sometimes they’ll put people, posing as pimps. They do all sorts of things.
The vice officers in Los Angeles and the Valley in particular, are really tasked with protecting the community. Let’s say there’s a big drug problem in a particular neighborhood of area. The vice officers will come in and start conducting surveillance and figuring out how they are going to arrest people. Another thing that I’ve seen over the course of the last twenty-five years of practicing criminal defense is vice officers will target big criminals. They’ll use informants, surveillance, undercover work in order to figure out how to get the big criminal.
Let’s say someone is dealing a bunch of drugs in the San Fernando Valley. The vice officers will figure out who that person is and then they’ll start to target them – watch them, follow them, videotape them. They’ll send their own officers in. They’ll also send informants in to try to talk to that person and get them to commit a crime – catch them on wire, catch them on videotape.
So, if you are caught by the vice patrol you’re going to be prosecuted in whatever courthouse has control or jurisdiction over that area where you were arrested, you should obviously get an attorney who knows that community, who has handled cases against the vice before. There’s also vice narcotics detectives. They do a lot of work as well. So really, if I had to pinpoint or synthesize down what vice detectives do in the San Fernando Valley that is to deal with the specific criminal activity that affects particular communities in the Valley. They’ll figure out what’s going on – if it’s drugs or if it’s prostitution or any type of theft-related offenses. Then they’ll figure out how they can solve this problem. What resources and what officers can be put on this to be able to figure out how to solve this particular issue.
A lot of times they use informants in the community who are even paid to help them figure out who’s involved with the crime and how they can stamp it out of that community. So, whether its narcotics, prostitution or any other type of crime, if it’s a constant problem in a particular community, the vice officers of that community are going to come in, put resources out, do surveillance, get video, get informant’s statements and then they’re going to start making arrests. I’ve seen them crash stash houses and arrest ten people at a time if they think all ten people are conspiring to commit a specific crime.
So, the key to defend yourself when these vice officers grab you is to get an attorney who has dealt with these officers before, and also the prosecutors who prosecute these crimes that are investigated by vice officers. A lot of times there’s particular prosecutors who directly work with the vice officers who directly work with the community in order to stamp out problems. In order to defend yourself and not get trapped up in that, and not be made a statistic, you’re going to want to get an attorney who can fight back for you, get your version of events across, and get you the best possible resolution that protects your rights, your freedom, your record and your reputation.
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