Saturday, January 27, 2007

Beefed-up LAPD presence in skid row

Where did they all go?

Read this article from the Los Angeles Times quoted below. The L.A.P.D. is cleaning up "skid row" downtown Los Angeles where the largest concentration of homeless people in the western United States reside and the homeless are leaving downtown. We all know they didn't just disappear.

The question is where are these "men and women in bedraggled clothes with leathery skin and uncombed hair" "shooting up drugs in broad daylight with few consequences" hang out now?
Some are here in Venice and can be seen at the beach and along Lincoln Blvd. This is California & Lincoln in front of the La Fortuna Market a few doors down from Cafe 50's, children walking home from school have to step over these people. One of the store owners told us that she has seen them step off the curb between the parked cars and squat down to defecate or just urinate right there on the Blvd.

So stoned out of their mind that they simply just do not care. These are desperate broken, mentally ill, drug and or alcohol addicted people who simply are not capable to even get help and have lost the will and want of the social services offered to them in the area. Sweeping them from one area just does not make sense, where do they think they will go? Visit the boardwalk in Venice early in the morning and you will see cardboard and blue tarp shelters.

"Five months into the Los Angeles Police Department's crackdown on crime in skid row, there is little doubt that the neighborhood is changing."

Yes our neighborhood here in Venice changed too but not for the better the "service resistant homeless" are more visible and more bold. These sick, broken individuals have totally given up and simply do not care! They know the police is understaffed and not much will happen to them the only thing they are scared of is each other. "The Bum Fights" are real and they are not pretty, sometimes you can see individuals walking by with visible injuries, teeth are knocked out faces swollen and bruised it hurts just to look at them.

These pictures were taken January 27, 2007

Beefed-up LAPD presence in skid row begins paying off
Areas have been swept clean of homeless encampments and crime is down 35% this month. Still, some ask if the commitment will be long term.

By Richard Winton, Times Staff Writer
January 27, 2007

Just a few months ago, the southeast corner of 6th and San Pedro streets was a drug bazaar nestled amid cardboard boxes, tarps and tents.

It was a place where men and women in bedraggled clothes with leathery skin and uncombed hair hung out as a woman in a wheelchair slyly sold heroin to passing motorists.

Midnight Mission official Orlando Ward said he could look through his office window and see the decaying cardboard encampments stretching for three-quarters of a block, with some of their dwellers shooting up drugs in broad daylight with few consequences.

Today, all the camps on the block are gone, along with much of the drug dealing and violence that came with them.

Usually, Ward said, people slowly return after an area is cleared out.

But not this time. At least not yet.

Five months into the Los Angeles Police Department's crackdown on crime in skid row, there is little doubt that the neighborhood is changing.

Last year, the district that for decades led the city in drug crimes recorded an 18% decline in major crime — more than 1,000 fewer incidents, according to LAPD figures.

So far this year, the drop in crime has accelerated. It fell 35% during the first four weeks of January, with 106 fewer crimes. The campaign has resulted in more than 1,000 drug arrests alone.

"In the last 24 hours we had one [serious] crime for the entire downtown compared with 22 crimes last year," said Capt. Andrew Smith, who commands the Central Division.

Among downtown residents and advocates for the homeless, there is consensus that the 50 extra officers the LAPD assigned to the district have improved the situation — though they say the area remains mired in poverty, blight and drugs.

They also remain skeptical about whether the LAPD's commitment to the area is long term. They say they have seen crackdowns reduce crime before — only to see it return when resources were focused elsewhere.

"Are we seeing and feeling a different level of crime on skid row? Yes. Have we turned a corner for skid row? I'd say it is too early to tell," said Estela Lopez, executive director of the Central City East Assn., a business owners group. "To break the back of crime in skid row will require more than six months."

"Historically, the LAPD has hit a problem area hard and then moved on," Lopez said. "But it wouldn't surprise me if there are people staying away now because the streets are hot with police. But if those 50 officers go away, they'll be back."

Shu Kwan Woo, a co-owner of ABC Toys on San Pedro Street, said it was a major change from last year when even getting his company's mail delivered was a struggle because so many drug users and needles hindered postal workers.

"This isn't something cosmetic. The whole area is getting cleaner," he said. "This isn't about chasing away the homeless. This is about chasing away the street criminals and drug dealers so the true homeless can get the help they need."

City leaders have talked for years about cleaning up skid row, which has the largest concentration of homeless people in the western United States.

Police Chief William J. Bratton and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa committed last year to a significant police infusion and programs to help the homeless.

The push comes amid a rapid gentrification of downtown's historic core, which has seen a boom in condo construction and the conversion of old office buildings into upscale lofts.

Smith and other officials acknowledge that they are far from reaching their goals.

"We're not out of the woods yet," the police captain said. "We had a drug overdose death today and caught two gang members selling heroin balls. We are still fighting the battle every day."

Trees have been trimmed, lights fixed, sidewalks cleaned. Shelters have produced more beds, Smith said.

On Gladys Avenue in the heart of skid row, the homeless encampments and crime problem persist despite the show of police force.

Not everyone likes the LAPD's approach. Some activists for the homeless have accused the department of harassing transients and cleaning off streets for the benefit of new upscale residents.

Ward, of the Midnight Mission, said the crackdown had been a mixed bag for the homeless. Many think they are less likely to be victimized by crime. But some also feel anxious about the police presence. They all wonder if this is permanent.

"It is so far a temporary change of culture," Ward said.

No comments: