A SKID ROW COP’S OPINION: A MENTAL HEALTH STATE OF EMERGENCY

Hello again all. It has been a while since I have posted on the blog. This is primarily due to my fellow officers keeping our fingers in the cracks of the Skid Row dam to keep it from breaking. Those cracks include an injunction that hampers the City’s efforts in obtaining and maintaining a decent quality of life for the Skid Row citizens we serve, as well as AB109, which severely impedes our ability to deter outside narcotics dealers from selling drugs near drug programs under the protections of the Lavan injunction. It is state law now, and there is nothing we can do to change it. With any change to our laws, we as a law enforcement entity must adapt and continue to find ways, no matter how difficult to reduce crime and fear of crime in any community we serve. Skid Row is no exception.

The Lavan decision and a slow recovering economy have injured the enhancement and outreach efforts arms of the Safer Cities initiative. Though we are still engaged in various forms of enforcement to keep crime down, without the aforementioned components, it is difficult to build on the success of past efforts. With talk of nearly, $3.7 million dollars being allocated to Skid Row, I believe the enhancement arm will be slowly restored over time. As far as outreach, aside from individual efforts of dedicated officers in the area, we have yet to see any movement or talks to bring that arm of the initiative back on line. We have been working diligently to start the conversation.

Without additional resources an extremely marginalized class of the Central City East community, remains vulnerable to the criminal element of the Skid Row community. That segment of the community is the mentally ill. Many of them are drawn to Skid Row for the level of free services that are not availed to them in other parts of the City or county. Many of them are not criminals, and function as any other law-abiding citizen when they properly manage their illnesses. They obey laws, utilize housing and other services, and even become advocates in assisting others struggling with mental illness. Some are partners with our department via community policing, and assets to the Skid Row community. Yet others are unfortunately dumped in the Skid Row area from other parts of the state and country at varied and dangerous stages of mental illness.

While in Skid Row their various issues become exacerbated, as many become victimized and exploited by the criminal element of Skid Row. Others become dual diagnosed as they begin to self medicate on the plethora of illicit narcotics being sold throughout the area by the very criminals we are struggling to keep out.

Historically as a department, we have been relegated to assisting these individuals when they degenerate to such a state, when they meet the legal requirements for a mandatory hold, only to be released several days later only to wonder back to Skid Row. They usually end up being handcuffed again and returned to a contract hospital for treatment again. Even worse, we often are relegated being an after the fact entity, as the mentally ill often become chronic victims or suspects in violent crimes, where they end up seriously hurt, or locked away in a jail or prison cell for a violent crime. Though many times this is understandable from a legal and public safety standpoint, it remains in my opinion one of the great wrongs in our society.

As an officer working over 16 years in the Skid Row area, I have seen many individuals, who I believed were right on the edge of either committing a crime, based on their volatile behavior. Unfortunately I had to wait until they actually committed the crime before I could “help” them. Others, I would observe in such a deteriorated state, that I knew that they would become vulnerable to an often merciless and heartless criminal element, due to their inability to report or articulate crimes against them. Without video, or a willing witness of these crimes, their cases would routinely get rejected, and they would remain open to more violence. Most of them we are unable to assist as well, because they legally do not meet the requirements to be helped by our department.

Recently, a mentally ill man, who is known for trying to pick fights with random individuals when his mental illness overcomes him, challenged a violent man to a fist fight in the area of 7th Street and Wall Street. I along with other officers in Skid Row have detained and placed this individual on a medical hold on several occasions to prevent him from being harmed via his actions. On a day that we were not able to rescue him from his illness, he was stabbed multiple times in the heart and throat by the man he challenged. He died several times in the hospital as doctors worked diligently to preserve his life. Thankfully he survived, but I saw this coming for months, and left untreated and un-housed, I truly believe he will be harmed again.

Just months prior, I was involved in a use of force with the same man, as he tried to assault a woman in front of children at the Union Rescue Mission, because blocks away, he was harassed and bullied over his sexual orientation. At no time during the struggle was I angry with this man. I was angry with a system that placed him, a homeless woman, and me in danger. In my opinion, his actions were a cry for help than nearly turned criminal.

Others who are not violent will become anchored to the sidewalk in unhealthy conditions for weeks, and develop scabies, attract rats and other vermin, or become so filthy that they can be smelled from blocks away. They end up in such a poor mental state that they do not take care of themselves physically, but because they at least have the wherewithal to feed themselves, they are often not considered a candidate for assistance via our department mental health resources.

We have been asked for years to be the answer for the issues stemming from mental illness in the communities we serve. We have done the best that we can to manage this issue with limitations to protect the mentally ill from predators, as well as protect the public from mentally ill individuals who we know are prone to violence. It is not the LAPD that has failed the mentally ill or the public. It is our society that has failed them. A society that has closed down hospitals. A system that is slow to create more housing plus care locations that would respect their autonomy and civil rights, as well as provide them with on-site access to services that can manage their conditions.

As a Division, it is no longer our goal to remain an “after the fact entity” as it relates to the homeless. I as a patrol officer, and a Senior Lead Officer, had to arrest many mentally ill men and women who I knew and cared about, after their illness drove them to harm someone. Though it was legal and in good faith, it was in my mind a moral crime. I put people in prison, and jail who needed help long before they committed their crimes. I could not stop them ahead of time because they did not utter the magic words of “I want to kill myself” or “I want to hurt others.” I watched helplessly as the indicators of their crime presented themselves in their behavior moments before an assault, a stabbing, or an act of mayhem. Or even worse, for the innocent victims, who would sit on the sidewalk mumbling incoherently, or cursing at an imaginary nemesis. I had an uneasy feeling that as soon as I walked away they would become victimized by a Skid Row predator anxious to prove how tough they were. Some were sexually violated because the assailant perceived that the victim could not call for help, or be able to articulate what happened to them. Upon my return from a meeting or handling a call for service my fears would often be confirmed.

Since the Lavan Injunction, the early release of many mentally ill individuals from the prison system, and a more aggressive form of nimbyism in other community’s eager to rid themselves of their mentally ill, we have seen an increase in the presence of said individuals in the Skid Row area like never before. We are at a state of urgency, as the streets of Skid Row have once again become an outdoor asylum without walls. On a daily basis we see the potential for violence against or committed by these individuals, and we truly need the stepped up assistance of mental health professionals who deal with mental health to reach out to these individuals before they become victimized, threaten suicide, victimize others, or become so mentally unstable, that they stop taking care of themselves. As we enter into this new phase of the Safer Cities Initiative, we desire that outreach stand at the front end our efforts. That can only happen when mental health providers, within and outside of Skid Row partner with us to try to meet the needs of the most vulnerable in Skid Row before they become a police report, or criminalized by their illness.

We have made several attempts to bring this to fruition, but our requests have been met with trepidation in working side by side with us out of fear of how they would be perceived by the public for working with law enforcement. This mentality has to change. It is not our desire to violate the constitutional rights of the mentally ill members of the Skid Row community. We desire to meet the mentally ill where they are with resources and counseling before they get to a point where they lose their freedom via a criminal act or a mandatory hold. This will take a collective and unified effort, because if we are honest, everything else we have tried has failed them.

No one knows better than the officers who work Skid Row where the neediest individuals of proactive outreach can be found. We see them daily. We know who the most vulnerable are, and we simply want to reach out to them via a consistent and proactive partnership to get them helped, and housed. We are not helping the mentally ill in a reactive state.

We as a Department are changing the way we do things for the safety of the community, and to develop stronger relationships with the people we serve. We need for Mental Health agencies to do the same and join us with us. We have tried everything else; it is time to try something that may actually work if we give it a chance.

 

Sincerely


Senior Lead Officer Deon Joseph
Los Angeles Police Department Central Division


Mayor Garcetti Announces Teddy Bear Drive To Provide Comfort To Children Who Experience Tragedy & Loss

Mayor’s Crisis Response Team and the Los Angeles Police Department Launch Drive to Collect Donations of New Stuffed Animals. Donation Boxes will be at all Mayor’s Office Locations and LAPD stations.

LOS ANGELES – Mayor Eric Garcetti and the Los Angeles Police Department today launched a Teddy Bear Drive to collect new stuffed animals that will be given to children at emergency scenes. The drive is being led by the Mayor’s Crisis Response Team, the LAPD, and CRT’s volunteer members. Officers will provide stuffed animals when comforting children who have experienced loss or witnessed a traumatic event.

“When children experience a tragedy, they can feel as if everything has been taken away from them,” said Mayor Garcetti. “The simple act of giving a child a teddy bear allows them something to hold onto during a turbulent time. During this holiday season, I ask Angelenos to consider donating a new stuffed animal to help comfort a child.”

While it is called a Teddy Bear Drive, all new stuffed animals are welcome and appreciated. The Teddy Bear Drive begins today and will continue through the end of the year. Brightly colored collection boxes will be displayed at all LAPD stations as well as the Mayor’s Help Desk at City Hall and his two field offices in Van Nuys and South L.A. Please visit lamayor.org/teddybear for locations. Donations may also be mailed to: Teddy Bear Drive, c/o Mayor’s Crisis Response Team, 200 N. Spring Street, Room 303, Los Angeles, CA 90012.

The Mayor’s Crisis Response Team is composed of more than 200 community civilian volunteers who respond to traumatic incidents at the request of the Los Angeles Police and Fire Departments. CRT volunteers provide immediate on-scene crisis intervention, attend to survival and comfort needs, act as a liaison between victims and emergency personnel, and provide referrals to victims and their families affected by a death, a serious injury, a violent crime, or other traumatic incidents. These include homicides, suicides, serious traffic accidents, natural deaths, and multi-casualty incidents. Last week, 40 new volunteers graduated from the seven week, forty-two hour training program at a ceremony attended by Mayor Garcetti, Chief Beck, and representatives of the Fire Department


Stand up and Speak Out Against Bullying Campaign

On the evening of Tuesday, November 15, 2011, LAPD West Valley Division, the Reseda Neighborhood BullyingCouncil and the Reseda Magnet School hosted as part of  the “Stand UP and Speak Out Against Bullying” campaign, a community meeting at the Reseda High School Auditorium.  Special guests and speakers included United States Attorney Andre Birotte Jr., LAPD Police Commissioner Alan Skobin, Deputy Chief Jorge Villegas, Captain John Egan and community volunteer and Public Safety Advocate Monica Harmon.

Bullying2More than 200 students, parents, teachers and other interested parties attended the hour long meeting.  In partnership with LAPD, Anti-Bullying meetings have been organized across the City of Los Angeles since early this year and forums have been held at local schools, CPAB’s, non-profit organizations and parent groups.  Topics covered during the Reseda Forum included all forms of Bullying and Cyber Bullying, and the speakers were also educated on the dangers of “Sexting.”  Students and parents were given brooklets and web sites to find more information on the issue.

Bullying is the most under reported Public Safety Issue in schools today.  Every day 160,000 students miss school for fear of being bullied and the majority of students have witnessed an incident of bullying.  United States Attorney Andre Birotte, Jr, the former Inspector General for the LAPD Police Commission remarked: “The two most important things that students, parents and teachers can do to prevent bullying of all kinds are, first, to educate themselves thoroughly on the subject and second, to communicate when they see or witness incidents of bullying. Forums like this one tonight are the perfect place to start that education and begin that communication.”


Chief Beck speaks about attack at Dodger Stadium

On Thursday April 7, 2011, Chief of Police Charlie Beck was joined by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Councilman Ed Reyes to discuss the attack on Bryan Stow, a San Francisco Giants fan attacked by two suspects after the Dodger’s home opening game a week ago today.  Also in attendance were family members and close friends of Bryan Stow to show their support.  They did not provide comment and asked for the media to respect their request not to be asked questions.  The Mayor and Councilman Reyes thanked the Los Angeles City Council for approving a reward of $50,000 dollars for the capture of the two suspects.  They also asked the public to contact the LAPD with any tips as there were a large number of people who may have witnessed the attack and can provide information on the suspects.  Councilman Reyes asked for the two suspects to turn themselves in as justice will prevail.

To hear the Chief’s comments about his plans for security measures please click on the link below.

Chief Beck speaks about attack on Giants fan


Superbowl Sunday DUI Prevention- Fans Don't Let Fans Drive Drunk

Los Angeles:  Football is one of America's favorite pastimes, but fans can put themselves in
serious danger if they don't plan ahead.  Whether you're at the game or watching from a sports
bar or a friend's house, designate a sober driver before the game.  And remember, Fans Don't
Let Fans Drive Drunk.

The following are some recommendations of what you can do if you are hosting a Super Bowl
party:

Make sure all of your guests designate their sober drivers before kick-off or help arrange ride-sharing with other sober drivers
Find unique ways to recognize the designated drivers at your party
     o Give them a great spot to watch the game
     o Whatever non-alcoholic beverage they are drinking, make sure their glass is always full
     o Let them have the first pass at the buffet table
     o Make sure their cars are easy to access when it is time to start driving people home
Serve plenty of food
Offer a variety of non-alcoholic choices like soft drinks, juice, and water
Serve one drink at a time and serve measured drinks
Only serve alcohol to guests over 21 years of age
Determine ahead of time when you'll stop serving alcohol, such as one hour before the end of the party or at the end of the third quarter of the game (just like NFL stadiums) and begin serving coffee and dessert
Add the numbers of local cab companies into your phone so they are just one touch away
Take appropriate steps to prevent anyone from driving while impaired
Be prepared for guests to spend the night if an alternative way home is not available

If you are attending a Super Bowl party or watching at a sports bar or restaurant:
Designate your sober driver before the party begins and leave your car keys at home if you plan to drink
Find unique ways to recognize the designated drivers when you are out at a bar or restaurant
     o Offer to be the designated driver the next time you go out
     o Cover the cost for parking or even pay for a tank of gas
     o Whatever non-alcoholic beverage they are drinking, make sure their glass is always full
     o Pick up the tab for their food and drink
Before you go out, add the numbers for local cab companies in your cell phone so if you find yourself in need of a ride, it is just one touch away
Avoid drinking too much alcohol too fast. Pace yourself—eat enough food, take breaks and alternate with non-alcoholic drinks.
Take appropriate steps to prevent anyone from driving while impaired. Remember, Fans Don't Let Fans Drive Drunk.
Always buckle up – it's your best defense on the road.

For further information, please contact Detective Bustos at 213-841-9060.


Chief Beck and Mayor Villaraigosa Announce Across the Board Crime Reduction in City's 2010 Year-End Crime Statistics

Podcast of Year End Crime Stats 2010
2010 End of Year Crime Snap Shot

Los Angeles- With an economy prone to budget cuts for the public safety sector and furloughs for city officials, the men and women have accomplished the impossible, the reduction of crime in a city that has considerably been affected by the economic recession. On Thursday, January 6, 2011, Chief Charlie Beck and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced the City's 2010 year-end crime statistics and reported on the significant crime reduction across the board.

The statistics indicate the progress of the men and women of the Los Angeles Police Department in making the City safer, despite the budget cuts and holds in hiring and promotion in the Department. The accomplishments in crime reduction also highlight Chief Beck's commitment to the Angelino community as the chief of the LAPD. In the conference, Chief Beck mentioned the importance and success of the Prevention-Intervention Program. Crime Prevention is the Department's top priority which requires the cooperation of both the police and the public in working collectively towards a common goal; to make the City of Los Angeles a better place.

The substantial crime reduction has been maintained for 8 consecutive years due to an expanded police force, more targeted police strategies, community policing and improved enforcement tactics, as well as the implementation of the City's comprehensive gang initiatives. The men and women of the Los Angeles Police Department have won many battles against crime, the significant decline in crime of 2010 is proof of those battles. Nevertheless, the quest for victory which consists of eliminating gang-related crimes in the streets of Los Angeles still remains. The statistics of 2010 demonstrate the 3.2% increase of crime from 919 in 2009 to 948 in 2010. Although the percentage increase is relatively low in comparison to previous years, it is still an increase in crime that affects the lives of many families in the City.

Despite the increase in gang-related crimes Chief Charlie Beck, as the head of the LAPD has demonstrated outstanding leadership, ethic, and respect in his first year as chief of the Department. He promised the decline in crime to continue in 2011 as he is committed in serving and protecting the lives of our fellow Angelinos.

The following are decline in crime statistics from 2009 to 2010:

CRIME                                                 2009 vs. 2010
Homicide                                            -5.4%
Rape                                                  -4.1%
Robbery                                             -10.5%
TOTAL VIOLENT CRIME                         -11.1%
Burglary                                              -6.2%
Burglary Theft from Vehicle                  -5.5%
Personal/Other Theft                            -5.0%
Auto Theft                                           -7.1%
TOTAL PROPERTY CRIME                       -5.8%
TOTAL PART I CRIME                            -6.9%

The following are statistics for gang related crimes from 2009 to 2010:

Crime                                               2009 vs. 2010
Gang-Related Crime                            -11.3%
Gang-Related Shots Fired                     -6.0%
Gang-Related Victims Shot                   + 3.2


PUBLIC SAFETY APPRECIATION BBQ

October 29, 2010 – The 11th Annual Public Safety Appreciation BBQ hosted by the Downtown Center Business Improvement District was held at the Ernst and Young Plaza located on 7th and Figueroa Street for all public safety personnel in the City of Los Angeles.  This annual event serves as an opportunity for the Downtown businesses to show their appreciation for the selfless efforts public safety personnel display in their everyday duties in keeping people safe. 

Blog Photos 022_3 Police Chief Charlie Beck along with countless public safety officials enjoyed a catered lunch provided by area establishments. Chief Beck thanked the local businesses for their help in making the Downtown area the eccentric center of the City it is.

“Downtown would not have been improved without the business / public safety partnership we have today,” Chief Beck said.

This event also served as a fundraiser which benefitted the Los Angeles Police Memorial Foundation.  A check in the amount of $5,000 was presented to Al Atkins, Executive Director of the Memorial Blog Photos 017_1 Foundation.   The money raised will go to assist the families of police officers killed in the line of duty.

The Los Angeles Police Department would like to thank all those who planned, organized and executed the Appreciation BBQ and looks forward to continuing their efforts to keep Downtown Los Angeles and all of Los Angeles safe.


Donation Accounts Opened To Assist Family of Joshua Cullins

Van Nuys: In response to the tragic death of LAPD Staff Sergeant Joshua Cullins who was killed recently by a roadside bomb while serving with the 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment in Afghanistan, Los Angeles Police Federal Credit Union (LAPFCU) has opened a Donation Account to assist his family.

Interested parties may contribute funds via the following options:

  • The public may mail in donations. Checks must be made payable to “Blue Ribbon Trust for Joshua Cullins” and send to:

Los Angeles Police Federal Credit Union
Attn: Blue Ribbon Trust for Joshua Cullins
P.O. Box 10188
Van Nuys, CA 91410

  • LAPFCU members may donate this account through PATROL online banking at www.lapfcu.org, or by calling 877-MY-LAPFCU (877-695-2732) and pressing 2. Please enter account #2030077 S4.47 followed by BLU (first three letters of the account name).
  • You may also visit the Community Corner area of LAPFCU’s website at www.lapfcu.org.
  • For additional information, please contact LAPFCU Vice President of Marketing Manny Padilla Jr., at 818-779-3311.

L.A. County Sheriff's Officers Arrest Two Suspected Graffiti Vandals

By Johannes Boie, Los Angeles Times
August 25, 2010

They're searching for a third man suspected in tagging that caused nearly $340,000 in property damage.
Officers with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Transit Bureau arrested two suspected graffiti vandals and are searching for a third suspect after serving search warrants Tuesday at their homes in Whittier and El Monte.

The three men are members of a tagging group called PCN, which stands for Painting City Nightly or Painters Causing Nightmares, deputies said. They are accused of causing $338,000 in damage to freeway bridges and L.A. County properties.  They started tagging about 1 1/2 years ago, officials said.

German Lara, 21, was arrested without incident early Tuesday at his home in the 1200 block of Danbrook Drive in Whittier. "This is a message to all taggers," said Lt. Vincent Carter. "If you don't stop tagging, we come to your houses at 7 in the morning, break down your door, wake you up and take you to jail."

Lara's mother opened the front door when deputies arrived and was cooperative. Later, she sat crying on the sidewalk. Lara was smiling as deputies arrested him. Three siblings also were home when deputies arrived.

Lara, who uses the tagging moniker Move, is responsible for $109,000, including $12,000 in damage to a railroad bridge owned by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, deputies said. His brother described him as the family's "black sheep," and one sister said he had refused to attend school, choosing instead to "hang out all night," deputies said.

Deputies seized several spray cans and a computer at Lara's house. Deputies said the computer contained pictures showing his alleged graffiti. They searched a second building in the backyard but found nothing.

Hours later and a few blocks away, Andrew Pineda, 20, of Whittier, who uses the tagger name Bogus, was arrested at his workplace. He is accused of causing about $109,000 in damage, including $30,000 to MTA property and about $79,000 to properties owned by the state of California and Union Pacific.

The third suspect, James Matthew Rivera, 20, whose tagger name is Supa or Supah, was not at his El Monte home when deputies arrived. He is accused of causing $120,000 in damage.

His grandmother, Amelia Reyes, 72, who lives at the house on Fruitvale Avenue with at least three of her 11 children and two other grandchildren, told deputies she did not know about Rivera's alleged tagging activities. His aunts said Rivera was a calm person who did not talk much.

Deputies seized a laptop from the Reyes home.

johannes.boie@latimes.com 

Police looking for good Samaritans

Although police typically find themselves scanning witness videos for bad guys, on Monday they put out an alert for a couple of heroes. Officers hope to find the good Samaritans who were captured on amateur video as they rescued a 69-year-old man from a burning car after a collision Sunday in Sherman Oaks. The duo was joined by another man armed with a fire extinguisher and a fourth who used a crowbar to try and break the car's windows. "It could have been much worse if it wasn't for them," said Officer Jose Garcia of the LAPD's Valley Traffic Division.

Los Angeles Daily News

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