The Melrose Business Improvement District (Melrose BID) is keeping visitors, residents, and businesses safe and secure these days with the help of security specialist Riley Sherwood.
Sherwood became the district’s security ambassador five months ago, and is experienced at his job, having previously worked security in the Venice area. Clad in a yellow shirt, clearly indicating his role as security for the district, he rides his bicycle between Fairfax and Highland eight hours a day, five days a week. Interfacing with business owners, working to assist with homeless issues, and even assisting visitors with directions, Sherwood is a welcoming sight– an advocate for businesses within the mile and a half that makes up the Melrose Business District, its main street and its alleys.
“On an average day I’m on my bike, on the street. If there are any problems, the businesses have my contact information, and they reach out to me. I help them deal with issues such as shoplifting or people who are sitting in front of the stores or panhandling aggressively,” Sherwood explains. “If I can’t handle a situation myself, I work closely with the LAPD, and they come out and help.”
Sherwood comes from a police family, and his father is still an active LAPD officer.
“If there is something I’m really not sure about at work, I can give my dad a call, and he can walk me through how to handle the situation,” he smiles. “My grandfather was the chief of police for San Fernando, and my uncle as well as my dad are police officers. Their work was always something I looked up to, and seeing them helping people really made an impression. That’s something I find rewarding as well. “
Sherwood has definitely inherited a commitment and dedication to service from his family, and hopes to someday become a police officer as well. For now, he enjoys his work on Melrose Ave.
“I’m really attached to Melrose. I love the people,” he says.
He often goes above and beyond the call of duty, exemplified by a recent incident when he noticed the back door of a vacant restaurant was open. “It was nice to be able to reach out to the owner, so he he could fix it before there was any damage done to the property.”
Such acts are the norm for Sherwood, who notes, “It’s something I think that’s in my blood coming from a law enforcement family, being there for people when they need you. Just being there for them is really important to me.”
As well as being happy with his job, Sherwood is delighted with his home life. “I’ve been married for three years. I met my wife in high school – we were high school sweethearts. She is honestly one of the best things that’s ever happened to me,” he relates.
Sherwood primarily works from noon to 8 p.m., varying his days of the week, riding back and forth until something catches his eye or someone calls him to help out.
“Some of the more common things I deal with are homeless individuals sleeping in front of stores or behind the stores, or asking people for money,” he notes. The homeless issue that affects all of the Los Angeles area has affected the Melrose BID, too, however it’s been less of an issue since Sherwood’s been on the job.
“I work with Pastor Steve Weller of the Venice 4 Square Church Homeless Task Force to offer the homeless a constructive program. If the clients are not interested, then we work with them to find other positive options,” Sherwood reports.
So far, they have been able to successfully place many homeless individuals in housing or rehabilitative services. “Basically I am here as a deterrent. We’ve gone down from perhaps ten calls a day concerning homeless issues to maybe two.”
He notices many tourists coming to the area, as well as locals, and is excited about a new business planned near Martel Ave., a dance studio that he feels will bring in a young and local crowd. “That should attract a lot of people to the area,” he asserts.
He’s also a big fan of shared business promotions, such as an electric shuttle that ran up and down Melrose for a month in the height of summer. “The shuttle provided free rides and an exciting diversion when it was really too hot for people to walk up and down the street. We had five sponsors from the business district, they had their names on the side of the shuttle, and there were coupons handed out for those businesses. People really enjoyed it.”
Holiday events that involve friendly competition for store decorations are also in the works, he says, and he is excited by the idea that merchants are communicating with each other. To that end, he also participates in a private Facebook account for Melrose Ave. business and property owners, where they can talk about the community, make plans, and he can provide security information. Parking issues have also been discussed, with a new BID-wide universal valet parking program being implemented
Sherwood feels his main contribution to the community is making both businesses and customers feel safe. “I ensure that people can walk down Melrose Ave. and not be harassed. I also make sure they feel safe, and let them know that someone is here for them.”
Going forward, he sees the area continuing to clean up and thrive. “Right now it is just me out there, but we’re talking about adding a night security team for 24/7 security. We want to make the street a place that everyone wants to go.”
And for now, Sherwood keeps on pedaling. “Tourists come up to me and I can give them directions. People ask me questions about parking, too. I’m here in the bright yellow shirt, helping out in every way I can!”