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A SKID ROW COP’S OPINION


THE BIG TO DO ABOUT JAYWALKING TICKETS

Hello everyone.  Senior Lead Officer Joseph here.  One of my many responsibilities is to educate the public about the realities of Skid Row, and the reasons for our focused enforcement in the area.  After meeting with many people from near and far, many of them come away with a new, informed view of skid row as opposed to the many misconceptions they read about or hear from certain groups.  Yet there are a few people with whom I have spoken with, who witness all of the positive changes happening in skid row before their very eyes, but cannot grasp the concept of enforcing laws for  so called “innocuous” offenses in the Skid Row area.

When any law enforcement agency focuses its enforcement in a specific location, it is mainly due to the level of blatant lawlessness associated with particular area that has gone far beyond the norm.  In Skid Row, many people were under the assumption that it was their “right” to break minor laws such as jaywalking, or standing in the middle of the street and so on because they were poor or homeless.  They along with many of our detractors truly believe that we should just look the other way.

The scarcity of police resources prior to the Safer Cities Initiative helped further this perception, as these minor violations went unchallenged for the most part, resulting in more heinous forms of lawlessness over the years.

When we focus our efforts in a particular location, we are not doing so to harass someone based on their social status, race, or gender but to break the cycle of lawless behavioral patterns and practices of that particular community for their safety and the safety of those around them.

Also, we are not writing jaywalking tickets, as an answer to ending or reducing homelessness, but to reduce the high volume of jaywalking violations in a targeted area where the specific violation or violations have become chronic.

As it relates to people with severe cases of mental illness, I personally believe in the “spirit of the law” style of enforcement rather than “letter of the law” enforcement, whereupon I encounter someone who may not have the wherewithal to understand these basic laws.

Yet in skid row, I find that most people whom I personally know (and that’s a lot of people) with various forms, and degrees of mental illness clearly understand the law. As I drive my patrol vehicle down the block, violators are beginning to step back onto the sidewalk, instead of blatantly crossing the street illegally.  Just four years ago I would have driven through a gauntlet of humanity standing in the street just to respond to an emergency call in Skid Row.

Hypathetically, If 19,000  tickets were written for jaywalking in skid row (referencing several articles printed about the Safer Cities Initiative, the latest from the Associated Press), then I can assure you that there were about 80,000 warnings given; unfortunately for us we do not document warnings.

One’s social status in life, does not give anyone a free pass to violate the law.  Routine law breakers in Skid Row had a 30 year run of doing pretty much what they wanted, which is in part what made it so dangerous in the first place.  The message we are trying to make clear to Skid Row and anywhere in Los Angeles where the overall level of lawlessness begins to erode the safety and civility of an area is that if you do not want a ticket, you must obey all laws like everyone else. 

As a result of our efforts, improvement is beginning to happen in Skid Row as fewer tickets are being written.  The basic concept of concentrated enforcement is to stay focused on a problem area until the problems stabilize, or stops, and we must continue our work until it becomes a true place of rehabilitation, safety and order for all who choose to live, work or visit there.  As it stands now, for me at least, all it takes is a stern warning and high visibility to deter most illegal activity on Skid Row.   

Though I am in full support of enforcing the laws of our state for the purpose of educating the public and increasing safety, I am equally in support of providing alternatives for people in Skid Row who may not have the means to pay the fines associated with receiving tickets.

Over the past few months the City Attorney’s office has been engaged in an effort which I am in favor of called the Homeless Alternative to Life on the Street also known as the “HALO” program.  This program is mainly for low-income and homeless members of the skid row community, who receive tickets for minor violations.  The program gives them a chance to work a few hours of community service, or check into a drug or alcohol program that suits their specific need, instead of paying the ticket, or missing court and having the ticket turn into a warrant. In the end, the benefactors of our enforcement and outreach is the Skid Row community, as we have fewer incidents of skid row residents being struck or nearly struck by vehicles, as well as a new sense of order that continues to improve daily.

I will keep you all posted on when the next HALO program will be in the Skid Row Area.

From Senior Lead Officer Deon Joseph
32511@lapd.lacity.org

Comments

I am a deputy public defender, and I agree substantially with your comments about the necessity of enforcing even minor laws, especially when disobedience becomes rampant, which is in accord with Chief Bratton's "broken windows" thesis.

I am therefore perplexed why Los Angeles Police Department officers continue to get a free pass when they park illegally, in no parking zones and bus zones, near the Foltz Criminal Justice Center. As you very correctly say, "One’s social status in life, does not give anyone a free pass to violate the law." I think that applies just as much to police officers as to the residents of skid row.

Why should it be true that "if you do not want a ticket, you must obey all laws like everyone else," unless you are a Los Angeles Police Officer?

that makes sense. next time you call the police because you are in fear for your safety, hopefully they will take their time to obey the speed limit, and find a legal parking space. this blatant abuse of authoirty (in your instance to appear in court by order of the court) must stop. these officers need to stop bending the rule to do such selfless acts as responding to calls for help as quickly as they can, or illegal parking when they see a violent crime occur in front of them. yeah you are so right.

I agree with Mr. Scott to a degree. If a police officer expects to be at court for a long period of time and is not in a status to handle calls, he or she should park in one of the lots designated for parking. If the officer is there temporarily, I think it is OK to park in red zones. I wouldn't want the officer to have to run six blocks in order to get their police car if a terrorist attack, Columbine-style or similar incident were to occur.

I'm glad there is a deputy public defender on the job who understands police use the enforcement of minor laws to bring peace and tranquility to areas where "disobedience" has grown rampant.

Similary, I am sure he understands the police enforce minor laws in violence plagued, gang infested neighborhoods in order to keep people safe. I am also sure he is quick to defend the police when community activists criticize about "over-policing" and levy racial profile allegations. Thank you Mr. Scott!

I certainly agree that police officers should not be required to worry about where they are parking (or how fast they are driving) in an emergency situation. In fact, that is what the law provides. I do not agree, however, that having to walk a couple of extra blocks to the courthouse, just like every other citizen must do, constitutes an emergency. That is against the law. No more so should a police officer be permitted to exceed the speed limit in the absence of an emergency.

An ordinary citizen who had to appear in court and decided to park in a bus loading zone rather than find a legal parking space would be faced with a fine of $1,000. Pardon me if I do not find a police officer's parking in the same place for the same reason to be a selfless act which should get a free pass.

Oh dear Mr. Scott. I am sure you never commit a traffic violation enroute to your prestigious job at the Foltz Criminal Justice Center. You drive no more than 65mph on the freeway and 35 mph on the side streets around the court correct? And you wait until all pedestrians are safely on the sidewalk before you negotiate your left or right turn in beautiful downton L.A.! And if you get pulled over, you never pull out your I.D. card from the court and tell the officer, "Don't you know who I am? Why, I am a public defender at 210 Temple Officer!" Paaalllleeaaaaaaaaase Mr. Scott. Don't make me laugh!!!

Mr. Scott,

You amuse me. An officer parking in the red zone can not be compared to the public safety issues that are being dealt with here. Jaywalking and other pedestrian traffic infractions are the leading cause to traffic collision along with DUI. I think that public safety should be more on your mind than the Cindy Brady tattle tale that you're clearly portraying yourself as.

You sir is what is wrong with this city. You rather deflect the problem of the inherent dangers the homeless face and blame those that are trying to come up with the solution. SHAME ON YOU! I rather that the officer have immediate access to their vehicle and equipment than have to park 20 blocks away because a leftist like you has an issue with their parking habits! Yes they should abide by the same laws as the rest of us but keep in perspective that they have public safety to deal with unlike you that sit in a cozy building.

God help us if there is a terrorist emergency in downtown LA and those same officers have to run blocks to get to their vehicle. I hope that never occurs but if it does you will again be the one that complains that the LAPD didn't respond in a timely manner. Darned if they do darned if they don't is what it's all about isn't it?

Los Angeles is one of the few if only the only major city in the US, that fails to provide adequate parking for officers attending court.

If officers didn't have to spend so much time in court waiting for public defenders who always seem arrive late, only to ask the judge for a continuance, this wouldn't be an issue.

Well, Mr. John Hamilton Scott, when your wife, sister, Mother or daughter are being beaten and raped in an alley several blocks from the Court, by one of the felons privy to the "early release, I'm sure you would like the Officer to be able to get into his car, activate his emergency lights and sirens and get to your loved ones aid ASAP?! Correct? Or maybe you just don't care about the good folks of Los Angeles or any of your family members for that matter. See, I don't have a problem parking several blocks from the court, but I do have a problem with your broken chain of logic. Try and escape mediocrity and stop hating the Police. Think outside the box for one time in your life. We park close to the court for the possible emergency that we might have to respond too, where seconds might count in saving someone's life. Yours might not be worth saving, but most peoples lives are worth it to us. Public Safety is our job, there Johnny-come-lately. Rinse, wash and repeat, until reality sets in, Hamilton.

A defense attorney talking about integrity or morals....thats a good one.

One point for Mr. Hamilton and everyone else to known is...officers parking in the red around the criminal courts building ARE routinely cited for parking violations!!! Those officers are also expected to pay those citations by the police department. If anyone sees a police car parked in the red around the CCB and it is not cited, it's only a matter of time or luck.

With all the officers expected to attend court daily, only a small number of spaces are allotted for police parking in the garage. After that, officers are on their own to find a parking space, which includes paying the fee (metered is free in a police car). The parking fee is not refunded by the police department.

Public defender = public OFFENDER.

All the blogging on here by LAPD officers (especially the coward who hides behind the name of Ed OShea) proves that LAPD officers are not overworked (and certainly not underpaid) like they claim. We defense attorneys have a duty to represent our clients to the best of our ability. If some of the O'Shea's of the world would first get a basic understanding of the 4th, 5th & 1st Amendments, we defense attorneys would be a lot less busy. More importantly, some officers need to come to the realization that the laws apply to them even when they're on duty!

Voir Dire???? What was your name again Mr.Kettle?

Voir Dire/Mr. Pubic Defender,

How would you know if Ed O'Shea ISN'T his real name?

Did you run that officer's name through the database?

Hmmmmmm.....

I smell misconduct!

Well first of all you have to tell dispatch where you are. You go into the court house you turn your radio way down as not to upset the GOD LIKE JUDGES. So how would hear the call and if you are in court why would you be called in the first place? So calm down Eddie boy get overself and get off your high horses.

How did this go from Ofcr Joseph explaining crime control measures on Skid Row to where it is now?...

Hello everyone. SLO Joseph here. I truly enjoy the lively dialogue of the many comments on my post. I would like to clear up a couple of things I read in a couple of the comments. For one, the well intentioned Public Defender conveniently left out the fact that there are parking spaces available at the location he spoke of. From 9 AM to 3 PM Officers can park there unless they are in the red. Though it is typical of some public defenders to leave things out, I will simply chalk his error up to being human. I hope he will do the same when judging critisizing us in the future. I am glad that we agree on the enforcement in Skid Row though.

Secondly, in reference to the comment about officers and their time, let me remind you that as a Senior Lead Officer, I have more time than our dedicated patrol officers to share my views with Skid Row and blog communities because that is my job. I am tasked with creating a bridge of understanding between the community I serve and my Community Police Station, and I am grateful to the leadership of this department for allowing the public to finally hear from the front line of law enforcement about how we feel about serving our communities, instead of hearing it from those with a vested interest in engaging in the demagoguery of law enforcement for a particular agenda or cause. So when I have the time (which is rare), I do share my thoughts about serving the wonderful in Skid Row, which is why I have the great relationship I have with them. I think it's called... Community Policing.

Take care all.

Mr. Scott

The truth hurts but basically you are right. I have never ever met an officer who parked in the red at court so he or she could respond to an emergency. But regardless, it just looks bad and appears to give a double standard, which so many officers have come to expect. We should be setting the example even if it's a difficult challenge instead of taking the easy way out. Officer Joseph's points are very appropriate for all of us.

Mr. Stevens: It's the old adage "see cop drop rock." O'Shea goes off on one of his wild tangents and all the other Kool Aid drinkers go bonkers. Your original concern and appropriate point of view was well taken by us norms.

"CITIZEN" Your life must be so pathetic. I have pity on you, for your sour and bitter outlook on the Police Department. And as a true, citizen of Los Angeles, my neighbors continuously tell me how happy they are with the LAPD.
And for the record, I have never needed to "park" in the red while attending court, but I would do it in a heart beat, if my division were so short handed that I needed to go up to the ADA and request to be put on call, on account of low man power, which I have had to doi SEVERAL times. Those times I left my partner in the car waiting, in case the vehicle needed to be moved. Anyone who doesn't think that would be a good enough reason, is to intalectually chalenged or just plain out of touch with the realities of Policing in Los Angeles these days, with respect to man power. But you wouldn't know anything about being a professional and actually taking pride in your job, or taking the safety of the citizens of Los Angeles seriously. No, you are nothing more than a petulant malcontent. Get help ASAP, there are plenty of meetings you can attend to work on your callow attitude. If you're watching the clock, that post took me approximately 2 minutes to write, on my glorious day off. Now I have 23 hours and 58 minutes to spend with my family and friends.
I am certainly glad that Officer Joseph is doing what he is. I might not agree with him all the time, but unlike you "CITIZEN," he got off the bench a long time ago and has been a vital part of making this city better. Keep up the good work Officer Joseph, and Stay Safe.

I love lawyer talk. It is our duty to serve our clients. It is sad that it must be done at the cost of true justice, fairness, and truth. Ohh well it is nice to now they have time to worry about the police officers, rather than their karma by allowing criminals to get away with crimes on tricks, smoke and mirrors.

Ed keep up your wonderful post's they make my day.

Cheers,

Old adage? That's like saying, "old antique".

Just saying....

O'Shea speaks for me and the true street cops out here, pushing sleds, that's for sure. At least he's got heart and passion for us ground pounders. That's more than I can say for you "norm" simpletons. SLO Joseph, keep up the good work. The D.A. is lucky to have a job. He couldn't push a trash truck in the real world.

I just came into town for a week long meeting and recieved a ticket for "Jay-Walking". I am from the East Coast and we have similiar traffic signals but they are more for automobiles. If there is a Red light and there are clearly no cars coming, I cross the street. I think if your city is going to make it a violation, you should have written signs that say "it's against the law" or "violating the walk sign" carries a penalty of $$$. Your laws are about ambiguess as one can be, and I think based on the large amount of blogs I've read your city does this on purpose. The right thing would be to have a sign or give an individual from another state at least a warning. I think this is a waste of tax payer money and it's obvious to me now why California operates in a financial defecit.

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