Police launch the "Hats Off" program in two valley communities. It basically means this: if you want to do business there, you'll want to tip back that "hoodie" or take off that hat or helmet.
It's a program that has reduced robberies significantly in other communities, and now authorities are going to try it out in Studio City and North Hollywood. Police are asking business owners to deliver this simple message to customers: hats off.
Hoodies and hats are often worn by criminals to shield their faces during robberies and break-ins. The LAPD says the overall crime rate in the city is down. But officials are concerned about a rash of robberies in Studio City.
That's why they're planning to implement the "Hats Off" program, urging business owners to post signs asking customers to take off their hats and sweatshirt hoods before entering.
The Studio City Chamber of Commerce supports the plan.
"Especially in this area, people wear hats and it's their right to do so," said Theresa Cameron, Studio City Chamber of Commerce. "But it's also our business owners' rights to protect their businesses. And if you're a little mom-and-pop liquor store and it's late at night and you've got somebody walking in wearing a hoodie, I think they have every right to ask that that hoodie be removed."
Businesses say it could help deter crime.
"It's a good idea," said pharmacy owner Ike Dzhragatspanyan. "I just don't know about implementing it on a business like this. Like when somebody comes in and you say, 'Hey, can you remove your hat?'"
But some say the image on the program sign is a little too disturbing.
"Not my taste," said business owner Steve Teitelbaum. "I really think it's a little bit over the top. It's more of a fear factor than it is a deterrent and I don't like to scare people."
Participation in Hats Off is strictly at the discretion of the individual business owner.