Activistas Piden Fin Para Programa de Cadetes

July 27, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Un grupo de activistas pidió el martes que se ponga fin al programa de cadetes del Departamento de Policía de Los Ángeles (LAPD) tras la detención de un oficial que supuestamente tuvo relaciones sexuales con una cadete de 15 años acusada de estar involucrada en el robo de tres vehículos de escuadra.

Los activistas de Black Lives Matter, de la Red de Acción Comunitaria de Los Ángeles y de la Coalición Stop Spam del LAPD, también pidieron al alcalde Eric Garcetti que despidiera al jefe del LAPD Charlie Back y para una investigación del programa de cadetes que se llevará a cabo independientemente del LAPD o de la Comisión de Policía de L.A.

La detención del oficial Robert Cain por el presunto abuso del cadete es parte de un patrón de conducta abusiva de varias décadas por parte del departamento y sus oficiales, según los activistas.

“Seamos claros, esto no es un evento aislado. Es parte de una larga historia y el patrón de los oficiales del LAPD de mal uso de autoridad, el abuso de poder y el uso de fuerza excesiva para dominar, intimidar, manipular, asaltar, violar e incluso matar a los más vulnerables”, dijo Nia-Amina Minor de Black Lives Matter en una conferencia de prensa.

Un funcionario de la Sección de Relaciones con los Medios del LAPD dijo que el departamento y Beck no tenían respuesta directa a las demandas de los activistas.

El LAPD está revisando su programa de cadetes tras las detenciones de los siete cadetes por su supuesta participación en el robo de tres automóviles de escuadra, que culminaron en dos persecuciones de alta velocidad y accidentes del 14 de junio.

Beck ha dicho que la familiaridad de los cadetes con los procedimientos del departamento les permitió robar los coches sin que se descubrieran inmediatamente y uno de los automóviles pudo haber estado desaparecido durante varias semanas. El departamento cree que los cadetes representaron a los oficiales durante las paradas de tráfico por lo menos en varias ocasiones, según Beck.

El 22 de junio, el jefe personalmente arresto a Cain por supuestamente tener una relación sexual con uno de los siete cadetes acusados.

Beck ha seguido expresando a su apoyo al programa de cadetes desde las detenciones, sosteniendo que los sospechosos eran esencialmente algunas malas manzanas entre los 2.200 cadetes activos.

“A pesar de que estamos muy decepcionados e insatisfechos con lo que pasó…me doy cuenta del valor del programa y que es importante para muchos jóvenes en Los Ángeles para aumentar sus posibilidades de éxito en años posteriores, aunque no se convertirán en oficiales de policía y en realidad la mayoría no lo hacen, pero creo que se prepara para la vida como hacen tantos programas de calidad”, dijo Beck en junio.

Matt Johnson, presidente de la Comisión de Policía, también expresó su apoyo al programa en junio, calificando de “valioso” y diciendo que no quiere “tirar al bebe junto con el agua del baño”.

En su nueva conferencia, los activistas dieron a los periodistas una lista detallada de las acusaciones de violencia doméstica y abuso sexual contra los oficiales del LAPD que se remontan a la década de 1970, incluyendo algunas acusaciones y arrestos de oficiales por abusar los miembros del Programa Explorador del LAPD, que fue organizado por los Boy Scouts of América. El LAPD corto lazos con los Boy Scouts en 2009 por su discriminación contra las personas LGBT y lanzo su propio programa interno de cadetes.

Los activistas pidieron que el dinero gastado en el programa de cadetes sea canalizado de programas juveniles no dirigidos por el LAPD y también se hizo una excepción a los comentarios hechos por Beck sobre el arresto de Cain en junio, cuando dijo que la relación del oficial con el cadete fue “todo consensuada, en que no se usó fuerza, miedo o intimidación”, aunque también dijo que las acciones de Cain eran “despreciables”.

“Exigimos que Charlie Beck sea despedido. Su impulso de defender al oficial Robert Cain para minimizar su comportamiento nos dice exactamente en qué lado se encuentra. Exigimos el fin del programa de los cadetes. La comunidad necesita programas para la juventud, pero no los que son administrados por el LAPD y sus oficiales”, dijo Tiffany Guerra de la Coalición para Espiar al LAPD.

 

Police Panel Says Shooting of Teen ‘Within Policy’

July 27, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

The Los Angeles Police Commission ruled Tuesday that officers were justified in fatally shooting an armed 14-year-old boy last summer after responding to a graffiti call.

The board ruled — on a 3-1 vote — that the shooting was within department policy, which was in agreement with a report by LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, though the panel ruled unanimously that one of the officer’s tactics leading up to the shooting were not within policy.

Jesse James Romero was killed around 5:50 p.m. last Aug. 9 near Breed Street and Cesar Chavez Avenue. Officers said they believed he fired a shot at them from around a corner, although his parents claim in a federal lawsuit filed last month that the teen threw the gun over a fence and it discharged.

“There’s no justification for why they killed my son,” Teresa Dominguez told the commissioners in Spanish before they met in a closed session and voted on the case.

According to Beck, officers had gone to the neighborhood on a report of graffiti and vandalism in an alley and encountered three suspects, including Romero, who ran away and looked like he had a weapon in his waistband.

A video surveillance camera captured Romero running with a gun in his waistband. Before rounding a corner, the officers heard a gunshot and believed he was firing at them, according to Beck’s report.

When Officer Eden Medina turned the corner, he reported seeing Romero in a squatting position, with his right hand extended out, and fired two rounds in response. At least one of the shots struck the teen, who was the second suspect to be shot and killed by Medina in a 12-day period.

The report did not state that Medina actually saw the gun in Romero’s hand, and the officer’s body camera showed that the weapon was found behind a wrought-iron fence.

A witness told the Los Angeles Times that Romero threw the gun toward a fence and that it went off when it hit the ground. The same witness said Romero turned around and looked startled after the shot went off before two more gunshots brought him to the ground.

Police said another witness saw Romero shoot in the direction of the officers. Beck’s report did not state where Romero was hit by gunfire, but the lawsuit states that he was shot in the back.

“It would have been impossible for Jesse to have the gun in his hand at the time the officers shot him in the back,” Humberto Guizar, an attorney representing Romero’s family in a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city, said in June.

The Romero’s lawsuit alleges the LAPD delayed getting medical assistance for the teen, and lacked probable cause to stop him and to use deadly force against him. In doing so, Romero was deprived of his civil rights and Medina caused his wrongful death, the suit alleges.

The lawsuit also alleges the LAPD has failed to properly train and supervise its officers, leading to the unnecessary and unreasonable use of excessive force, and used unconstitutional police tactics to investigate use-of-force incidents.

“The LAPD has fostered a culture of allowing its officers to shoot people and get way with it, and not discipline them and not take them off the streets,” Guizar alleged.

Activists responded angrily to the commission’s votes Tuesday in the fatal officer-involved shooting deaths of Romero and that of Kenney Watkins, 18, who police said pulled out two guns after a traffic stop last August in South Los Angeles. Watkins was killed near the 400 block of West Century Boulevard about 3:30 p.m. on Aug. 16.

According to a lawsuit filed last December by Watkins’ mother, Prescious Sasser, her son was unarmed and was not a threat to the officer. She is seeking unspecified damages on allegations of wrongful death, negligence, assault, battery, negligent hiring and civil rights violations.

These and other officer-involved shootings sparked months of angry and often disruptive protests of police commission meetings by Black Lives Matter and eastside activists, a reaction that continued Tuesday.

Longtime community activist Carlos Montes has been fighting “police brutality” by the LAPD for years, most recently organizing protests in response to the shooting of Romero and others in Boyle Heights.

Montes told EGP previously that the problem in the LAPD is “systemic.”

“ … when is the last time a police officer got prosecuted for murder,” he said.

The police commission’s vote Tuesday affirmed Beck’s report that Medina was within department policy — which allows an officer to shoot a suspect if he fears for his life or the life of another — when he fatally shot Romero.

EGP staff writers contributed to this report.

Mail Stoppage Frustrates Glassell Park Residents

July 20, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

An ongoing investigation into a shooting in Glassell Park has halted mail delivery to the area for several weeks now, raising the frustrations of local residents.

A mail carrier was nearly hit by bullets during a shooting on June 27,  prompting the U.S. Postal Service to stop mail delivery to residents on a street notorious for its history of gang-related violence. Postal officials cited concerns for the safety of mail carriers as the reason for the stoppage.

Since June 28, residents living in the 3300 and 3400 blocks of Drew Street have been without home delivery service. To get their mail, they must go in person to the Glassell Park Post Office, the closest facility to the northeast Los Angeles neighborhood.

USPS letter posted on Drew Street residents' mailboxes informing them delivery of mail to their homes was suspended. (EGP photo by Carlos Alvarez)

USPS letter posted on Drew Street residents’ mailboxes informing them delivery of mail to their homes was suspended. (EGP photo by Carlos Alvarez)

“It’s a little bit frustrating,” said Christian Rubio, who told EGP he’s busy working “two jobs and trying to go to school.”

Rubio, who moved into the neighborhood about a year ago, said he’s glad the postal service is taking precautions, but adds he hopes police are doing their job to solve the case and stop crime in the neighborhood.

According to the LA Times, police confirmed a shooting did take place that day, but are not providing any further information.

In the meantime, Drew Street resident Elizabeth Espinoza is growing weary of the situation. She said she has no clue how much longer she and her neighbors will have to endure the inconvenience of retrieving their mail from the post office.

“It’s frustrating,” complains Espinoza. “I have to go each day to get our mail, but sometimes I don’t have time,” she said, explaining she has “other errands to attend too.”

The post office is not far from her home, but the stay-at-home mom says the traffic on busy Eagle Rock Boulevard makes the trek a burden.

While she acknowledges traffic in Los Angeles is inevitable, she says dealing with the hassle of finding parking and long lines at the post office can be overwhelming.

“If we come at a bad time” it can take much longer than we expected, she told EGP, clearly unhappy with the situation.

USPS spokeswoman Evelina Ramirez said they are communicating with city and local representatives to try to find a better solution.

Ramirez said she can’t recall another time when mail delivery was stopped, but added difficult situations are evaluated on a case-by-case scenario.

Mail service to residents on Drew Street was halted when a mail carrier was nearly shot. (EGP photo by Carlos Alvarez)

Mail service to residents on Drew Street was halted when a mail carrier was nearly shot. (EGP photo by Carlos Alvarez)

“It’s a rare situation,” Ramirez acknowledged. “Unfortunately, residents have to continue to pick up their mail,” she said, adding they are  “working on accommodating both our employees and customers.”

For decades, gang-related violence was the norm in the Drew Street area, but a series of police raids and high-profile arrests of more than 200 gang members in 2008 and 2009 began to turn things around. Soon, more families were willing to come out of their homes and take part in local activities. A notorious gang den was demolished and replaced with community park.

The area’s problems did not completely disappear, but the level of violence fell significantly in ensuing years.

Over the last couple of years, however, Los Angeles has seen an uptick in violent and gang-related crime, reversing years of decreases. Some officials have been quick to blame the early release of criminals under new Proposition 47 sentencing guidelines and the state’s realignment of the prison system — sending more convicted criminals back to county jails already struggling to house increasing number of inmates under their jurisdiction — for a surge of violent crime over the last couple of years.

Late last month, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said it appeared the city has turned the corner, and the spike in crime has been abated.

In in the past six months, however, there were  41 violent crimes in the Drew Street neighborhood, 61 percent of them related to aggravated assault, according to the LA Times.

The neighborhood, which has seen some of the gentrification and soaring home prices akin to those in nearby Highland Park, still has areas that continue to have a reputation for gang violence. Espinoza, however, believes Drew Street was singled out by postal officials for more punitive treatment.

“It’s an unfortunate situation,” Espinoza said, “but I don’t think they’re stopping mail delivery in other areas where incidents have occurred.”

EGP Managing Editor Gloria Alvarez contributed to this story.

Paralización del correo frustra a los residentes de Glassell Park

July 20, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Una investigación en curso sobre un tiroteo en Glassell Park ha parado la entrega del correo al área por varias semanas, aumentando las frustraciones de residentes locales.

Un cartero fue casi herido por balas durante un tiroteo el 27 de junio, lo que llevo al Servicio Postal de los Estados Unidos para detener la entrega de correo a los residentes de una calle notoria por su historia de violencia relacionada con pandillas. Los funcionarios postales mencionaron las preocupaciones por la seguridad de los carteros como la razón de la detención.

Desde el 28 de junio, los residentes que viven en los bloques 3300 y 3400 de la calle Drew han estado sin servicio de entrega a domicilio. Para obtener su correo, deben ir en persona a la Oficina de Correos Glassell Park, la instalación más cercana a la vecindad del noreste de Los Ángeles.

“Es un poco frustrante”, dijo Christian Rubio, quien le dijo a EGP que estaba ocupado con “dos trabajos e intentando ir a la escuela”.

Rubio, que se mudó al vecindario hace un año, dijo que está contento de que el servicio postal este tomando precauciones, pero agrega que espera que la policía haga su trabajo para resolver el caso y detener la delincuencia en el vecindario.

De acuerdo con el LA Times, la policía confirmó que un tiroteo tomo lugar ese día, pero no proporcionan más información.

Mientras tanto, una residente de la calle Drew, Elizabeth Espinoza, se está cansando de la situación. Ella dijo que no tiene ni idea de cuánto tiempo más ella y sus vecinos tendrán que soportar el inconveniente de recuperar su correo de la oficina de correos.

“Es frustrante”, se queja Espinoza. “Tengo que ir cada día a buscar nuestro correo, pero a veces no tengo tiempo” dijo, explicando que tenía “otros mandados para hacer”.

La oficina de correos no está lejos de su casa, pero la ama de casa dice que el tráfico en el boulevard ocupado de Eagle Rock hace que la caminata sea una carga.

Aunque reconoce que el tráfico en Los Ángeles es inevitable, dice que tratar con la molestia de encontrar aparcamiento y largas colas en la oficina de correos puede ser abrumador.

“Si llegamos en un mal momento” puede tomar mucho más tiempo de lo que esperábamos,” le dijo a EGP, evidentemente descontenta con la situación,

La portavoz de USPS, Evelina Ramírez, dijo que se están comunicado con representantes de la cuidad y locales para tratar de encontrar una solución mejor.

Ramírez dijo que no puede recordar ninguna otra vez cuando la entrega del correo fue detenida, pero añadió que las situaciones difíciles se evalúan en un escenario caso por caso.

“Es una situación rara”, reconoció Ramírez. “Desafortunadamente, los residentes tienen que seguir recogiendo su correo”, dijo, agregando que están “trabajando en acomodar a nuestros empleados y clientes”.

Durante décadas, la violencia relacionada con pandillas fue la norma en el área de la calle Drew, pero una serie de redadas policiales y detenciones de alto perfil de más de 200 pandilleros en 2008 y 2009 comenzaron a cambiar las cosas. Pronto, más familias estaban dispuestas a salir de sus hogares y participar en actividades locales. Una guarida notoria de pandilleros fue demolida y substituida con un parque para la comunidad.

Los problemas de la zona no desaparecieron por completo, pero el nivel de violencia cayó significativamente en los años siguientes.

Sin embargo, en los últimos años, Los Ángeles ha experimentado un alza en la delincuencia violenta y relacionada con pandillas, invirtiendo años de descensos. Algunos funcionarios han sido rápidos en culpar la liberación temprana de los delincuentes bajo las nuevas directrices de la sentencia de la Proposición 47 y el realineamiento del estado del sistema penitenciario – enviando a más criminales condenados de vuelta a las cárceles del condado que ya luchan para albergar cada vez más reclusos baso su jurisdicción – de delitos violentos en los últimos dos años.

A finales del mes pasado, el jefe de policía de Los Ángeles, Charlie Beck, dijo que parecía que la cuidad había cambiado y que el aumento de la delincuencia había disminuido.

En los últimos seis meses, sin embargo, hubo 41 crímenes violentos en la vecindad de la calle Drew, el 61 por ciento de ellos relacionados con agresión agravada, según el LA Times.

La vecindad, que ha visto la gentrificación y la subida de precios similares a los de cerca de Highland Park, todavía tiene áreas que siguen teniendo una reputación de violencia de pandillas. Espinoza, sin embargo, cree que la calle Drew fue señalado por funcionarios postales para un tratamiento más punitivo.

“Es una situación desafortunada”, dijo Espinoza, “pero no creo que esté detenido la entrega del correo en otras áreas donde se han producido incidentes”.

Gloria Álvarez, gerente editorial de EGP, contribuyo a esta historia.

LAPD Union Blames Crime Spike on Beck

January 21, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The union representing the rank-and-file in the Los Angeles Police Department unleashed a barely concealed attack on police Chief Charlie Beck Wednesday, linking his policies to a surge in crime.

“The Los Angeles Police Protective League will formally request that the Los Angeles City Council’s Public Safety Committee immediately hold public hearings to determine the effectiveness of Chief Beck’s current crime reducing efforts and what he proposes to do to reduce the dramatic rise in crime,” a statement said, announcing a late-morning news conference by two of the union’s
directors.

“The LAPPL will also disclose the dangerously low police patrol staffing levels that are endangering the residents, visitors, businesses and police officers in Los Angeles.”

The police union cited a 20.2 percent increase in violent crime and a 10.7 percent increase in property crime from 2014 to 2015.

Relations between the chief and the union appear to have been particularly strained since he called last week for charges to be filed against LAPD Officer Clifford Proctor for the shooting death in

Venice on May 5 of an unarmed homeless man named Brendon Glenn. It was his first such call.

“I don’t do this lightly and in the vast majority of the time, as you well know, I stand up for you, regardless of public opinion,” the chief told officers in a video. “But in this case, I had to call it like I saw it. I had to do the right thing.”

Police union officials accused the chief of flagging in the face of political and public pressure. Jaime McBride, one of the directors scheduled to speak at the late-morning news conference, said that by making public his recommendation to charge Proctor, Beck engaged in “nothing short of political grandstanding” to curry favor with department critics.

Officers, he said, have “lost any and all confidence” in his ability to lead the LAPD. “He would be delusional to believe otherwise,” McBride said in a statement last week.

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