Beautiful neighborhoods filled with long-term residents and some of the best senior lead officers in the city are just a couple of the reasons the newest commanding officer of the Wilshire Division is happy with his new assignment.
Capt. Rolando Solano is a Los Angeles native and a 26-year veteran to the city’s police department. He was tapped to replace Capt. Howard Leslie, who was transferred in March to the Central Division. Leslie had served as commanding officer of Wilshire since August 2013.
Born and raised in West Los Angeles, Solano is a Loyola High School graduate. He went on to earn a Bachelor of Science from Cal State Northridge.
As a young and eager college graduate, Solano fell into what he calls “one of those dream-come-true jobs” working six years at a media production company hired to do media packaging for the Los Angeles Raiders.
“I started out just helping out in the office, that kind of stuff,” says Solano. “But after a few years the company needed help with a Spanish-language network—and I jumped at the chance. I worked myself up from delivering packages to radio and television production.”
While he enjoyed working in media, Solano says he felt he was being driven toward a new career: “I had family and friends in law enforcement, and throughout the years it was something that would nod at me; it felt like the right move.”
After successfully completing his police academy training, Solano was appointed to the Los Angeles Police Dept. in April 1990. Following stints in Central, Metropolitan and Wilshire divisions, Solano was promoted to the rank of captain in 2012 and assigned as the commanding officer of West Los Angeles Patrol Division.
Still in his first few weeks in the Wilshire position, Solano says one of his top priorities is the Community Police Advisory Board (CPAB). The reorganized board will have eight members representing the six neighborhood councils in the LAPD’s Wilshire Division, as well as several local business groups.
“It’s all about keeping the lines of communication open,” says Rolando, adding, “I want to be out there meeting members of the community.”
But what about crime? Rolando says that is the constant focaus of LAPD. He says “right now the big push is to decrease violent crime,” but notes that property crime is always a problem and requires constant attention.
Discussing local challenges, Solano says that while Wilshire doesn’t have the type of gang problems found in other parts of the city, “we have to be diligent to fight spill over.”
On the morning of the Chronicle’s interview with Capt. Solano, the “Los Angeles Daily News” published an article by Susan Shelley citing a recent Public Policy Institute of California study that found, in Los Angeles County last year, property crimes were up sharply, but arrests and bookings for the crimes fell 31 percent.
Shelley—whose article was mostly focused on police stations in the San Fernando Valley—offered two reasonable explanations: a lack of department resources, and a loss of motivation from officers following the passage of Proposition 47 in 2014, which reduced some property crime offenses to misdemeanors.
When asked if the new commanding officer has either concern relating to property crime in the Wilshire Division, Solano was confident this was not the case here.
“What it comes down to is, yes, we always want to have more resources, but like any type of business, we maximize what we have.
“All I can say is that speaking with the officers here at Wilshire, these are very dedicated and dynamic officers, senior lead officers, patrols and specialized units. Wilshire has always seemed to be able to keep some of the best officers, who maintain long-term and positive relationships with the area.”
Capt. Solano gave his assurance that if you have an incident, and report it, LAPD Wilshire will be hot on the trail. “We will find them,” he says, before reminding me that he needs everyone’s help. “If you see something, even if you’re not sure, call 911. We need the help of the public.”