Eastside Foot Patrols Next Step in Community Policing

May 21, 2015 by · 1 Comment 

Authorities Monday announced a program to double the number of police footbeat patrols in the Boyle Heights, Lincoln Heights and El Sereno areas.

The “Hollenbeck Community Partners Program” will add four “corridors” to the existing four corridors that are patrolled on foot by officers from the Los Angeles Police Department’s Hollenbeck Station.

Officers will work with businesses and residents to improve the quality of life in the community, LAPD officials said at a late-morning news conference at Mariachi Plaza, at First Street and Boyle Avenue.

The program takes LAPD’s community policing efforts to a higher level, Hollenbeck Capt. Martin Baeza told EGP.

Baeza said the timing could not be better given the recent nationwide focus on police interactions with the community, many of which have negative overtones.

Councilman Jose Huizar and officers from the LAPD Hollenbeck division announce community policing during a press conference last week.  (Courtesy of Councilmember Jose Huizar)

Councilman Jose Huizar and officers from the LAPD Hollenbeck division announce community policing during a press conference last week. (Courtesy of Councilmember Jose Huizar)

“What this program does is put our police officers out in the community, where they can get to know the community and the community can get to know them,” Baeza said. “They will get to know people’s name and hear their concerns,” the captain said.

Councilman Jose Huizar represents the area and strongly supports Beaza’s effort.

He said the community has been asking for footbeat patrols to be expanded to other areas for some time, but it took a while to marshal the resources and get everything in place.

“The timing is great,” said Huizar. “We’ve been working hard on the commercial corridors in the area, to make them more walkable, the police foot patrols will add to that,” the councilman said.

Residents will feel safer, business owners will feel safer and visitors to the area will feel safer, and that’s a positive thing for the community, Huizar said.

Growing up in Boyle Heights, Huizar said the LAPD did not always have a good relationship with the community, but times have changed and the majority of residents welcome the larger police presence in their neighborhoods.

While crime across the city has dropped significantly over the last decade, reaching lows not seen in decades, Baez says there’s still more to do.

But the police can’t do it alone, he said, adding that they need the cooperation of the community.

“That’s why I named it the ‘Hollenbeck Community Partners Program,’ to show that it takes everyone working together to solve problems,” Baeza told EGP.

“We are working with the [City Attorney’s] neighborhood prosecutor for the area, the chamber of commerce” and other groups to solve quality of life issues in these areas, emphasized the captain.

Footbeat patrol officers will not replace senior lead officers in the area, but will work directly with them, he said

Nor will the increase of officers walking reduce the number of patrol cars, he added, explaining the division was able to secure six additional officers to beef up the number of police assigned to Hollenbeck. “We had support from the top of the department.”

All of the 16 officers assigned to the footbeats volunteered for the assignment, according to Baeza. He said, like him, several of the officers have roots in the local community. At least one officer on each patrol team speaks Spanish, he said.

“And I think in our community, which is an immigrant community, I think it’s very important that the community have a trust with the police,” Baeza said.

“What Capt. Baeza has proposed is the next step in community policing,” said Huizar. “We will be looking at it, to see how it works, and if it’s something that will work in other neighborhoods.”

The eight footbeat patrol corridors are:

— Cesar Chavez Boulevard between State Street and Evergreen Avenue;

— North Broadway between Avenue 21 and Lincoln Park Boulevard;

— Huntington Drive between Eastern Avenue and Pueblo Street;

— Whittier Boulevard between Indiana Avenue and Lorena Street;

— Soto Street between Olympic and Whittier boulevards;

— Olympic Boulevard between Soto and Camulos streets;

— Eastern Avenue between Huntington Drive and Klamath Street; and

— First Street Between Boyle Avenue and Soto Street.

 

Duplican Número de Oficiales de Policía a Pie en la División Hollenbeck

May 21, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Autoridades anunciaron el lunes un programa para duplicar el número de oficiales de policía a pie en zonas de Boyle Heights, Lincoln Heights y El Sereno.

El “Programa de Socios de la Comunidad de Hollenbeck” agregará cuatro “Corredores” a los cuatro existentes que se patrullan a pie por los oficiales del Departamento de Policía de Los Ángeles, División Hollenbeck.

Los oficiales trabajarán con las empresas y los residentes para mejorar la calidad de la vida en la comunidad, dijeron funcionarios del LAPD en conferencia de prensa el lunes por la mañana en Mariachi Plaza, en la calle Primera y la Avenida Boyle.

Concejal José Huizar (CD-14) anuncia expansión del programa junto a oficiales de policía de la división Hollenbeck. (Foto cortesía de la oficina del Concejal Huizar)

Concejal José Huizar (CD-14) anuncia expansión del programa junto a oficiales de policía de la división Hollenbeck. (Foto cortesía de la oficina del Concejal Huizar)

“Este es un esfuerzo de base”, dijo el capitán de policía de Hollenbeck Martín Baeza a CBS2. “Creo que en nuestra comunidad, que es una comunidad de inmigrantes, es muy importante que [tengan] confianza con la policía”, agregó Baeza.

Los ocho corredores con oficiales de policía a pie son:

-Bulevar César Chávez entre la Calle State y la Avenida Evergreen;

-North Broadway entre la Avenida 21 y el Bulevar Lincoln Park;

-Huntington Drive entre  la Avenida Eastern y la Calle Pueblo;

-Whittier Bulevar entre la Avenida Indiana y la Calle Lorena;

–Calle Soto entre los bulevares Olympic y Whittier;

–Bulevar Olympic entre las calles Soto y Camulos;

–Avenida Eastern entre Huntington Drive y la Calle Klamath; y

–Calle Primera entre la Avenida Boyle y la Calle Soto.

 

Reciente Aumento de Violencia Provoca Debate Sobre Ordenes Judiciales

May 7, 2015 by · 1 Comment 

El ex miembro de pandillas Abraham Colunga recuerda aquella mañana cuando fue arrestado por violar una orden que prohíbe a miembros de pandillas asociarse con otros miembros de las mismas.

Explicó que mientras llevaba a su hija a la escuela repentinamente fue puesto en custodia por la policía. ¿Su presunto delito? Hablar con su vecino quien estaba sentado en una patrulla de policía y le pedía que notificará a su familia de lo sucedido. Sin darse cuenta, Colunga cometió una violación de un mandato judicial antipandillas en South Gate, debido a que su vecino era miembro de una pandilla.

Colunga dice que la breve conversación condujo a su arresto.

Read this article in English: Recent Violence Sparks Debate Over Gang Injunction Tool

“… Me llevaron a la cárcel por 90 días”, dijo durante un foro en Highland Park la semana pasada, donde los panelistas debatieron sobre el valor de los mandatos judiciales antipandillas como herramienta de lucha contra el crimen.

Colunga dice que estos mandatos judiciales hacen más difícil que los miembros de pandillas que desean cambiar sus vidas obtengan trabajos e incluso afectan a sus familias.

Los panelistas—representando a la oficina del Fiscal de la Ciudad de Los Ángeles, el Departamento de Policía de Los Ángeles, la Unión Americana de Libertades Civiles (ACLU),  programas de intervención de pandillas, así como dos jóvenes exponiendo sus testimonios—cada uno tomando el problema desde la perspectiva única de sus puestos de trabajo y lo que han experimentado acordaron que la violencia de pandillas es un problema serio.

El foro, organizado por el Consejo Vecinal del Histórico Highland Park, se llevó a cabo en la Preparatoria Franklin y llega a raíz del reciente aumento de tiroteos relacionados con pandillas en el noreste de Los Ángeles.

Un panel de representantes de autoridades de la ley, organizaciones y jóvenes con testimonios hablaron sobre las ordenes judiciales. (EGP foto por Jacqueline García)

Un panel de representantes de autoridades de la ley, organizaciones y jóvenes con testimonios hablaron sobre las ordenes judiciales. (EGP foto por Jacqueline García)

El capitán Jeffrey Bert con la división noreste del LAPD atribuyó el origen a un feudo entre las pandillas Avenues y HLP en Highland Park. En lo que va de este año, la delincuencia relacionada con las pandillas subió en un 67% en comparación con el año pasado, dijo Bert. Han habido 20 tiroteos entre las pandillas Avenues y HLP entre el 6 de febrero y el 18 de abril de 2015; con algunas víctimas inocentes.

En respuesta, el LAPD ha incrementado el número de agentes que patrullan la zona puesto que algunos residentes exigen mayores tácticas de supresión de pandillas.

Los mandatos judiciales antipandillas son una herramienta de este tipo, dijo el abogado del fiscal, Arturo Martínez, quien explicó que los mandatos son órdenes judiciales civiles que prohíben que pandilleros se reúnan entre sí o cometan delitos en nombre de las pandillas. Considerado por la policía como una de las herramientas de supresión de pandillas legales más eficaces, los mandatos judiciales antipandillas detallan actividades que son restringidas en un territorio identificado por una pandilla, tales como el ‘tagging’ (rayar paredes), venta o posesión de drogas o un arma de fuego, beber en público o permanecer fuera después de un toque de queda impuesto: todas las actividades ya son crímenes, dijo uno de los panelistas, y no es necesario un mandato judicial para ser considerado ilegal.

Actualmente hay más de 46 mandatos judiciales antipandillas permanentes en Los Ángeles, según el sitio web de la Fiscalía de la ciudad. Tres pandillas fueron etiquetadas en Highland Park: Avenues, HLP y Dogtown.

Cómo se obtienen y se aplican los mandatos ha cambiado con los años, en respuesta a lo que se ha aprendido con cada uno, explicó Martínez.

Él dijo que el departamento ya no muestra los nombres de los miembros de pandillas en los mandatos. En su lugar, se dirigen a la pandilla como una entidad criminal, similar a lo que el gobierno federal hizo con la mafia. Para condenar a alguien de una violación del mandato judicial, debe haber suficiente evidencia que demuestre que la persona actuó de una manera que beneficie a la pandilla y perjudica a la comunidad.

“Hemos servido a 504 miembros de Avenues desde abril de 2003, 51 miembros de Dogtown desde enero de 2009, y 141 miembros de Highland Park desde diciembre de 2006”, y que contribuyeron a la gran caída en el crimen que teníamos hasta ahora, dijo el capitán Bert.

Catherine A. Wagner de la división del Sur de California de la ACLU dijo que los mandatos judiciales antipandillas violan el derecho del individuo a un debido proceso. Ella dijo que algunas personas no saben que están sujetos a la medida cautelar hasta que son arrestados por violar un delito menor y tienen que probar en corte por qué el mandato judicial no se les debe aplicar.

El proceso “pone la carga en el individuo para demostrar que él o ella no es un miembro de la pandilla” cuando debería ser el gobierno quien demuestre que tiene motivos para restringir sus derechos, dijo Wagner.

Ella dijo que los mandatos penalizan actividades que la mayoría de la gente da por sentado, como visitar a un familiar en el hospital o ir a un parque, incluso cuando no hay evidencia de que este ocurriendo actividad ilegal, y eso está mal.

Según Alba S. Cerda, directora de violencia juvenil y prevención de pandillas con el Hospital Infantil de Los Ángeles, hay una fuerte desconexión entre lo que una persona piensa de si misma como miembro de una pandilla y lo que la ley piensa. Los jóvenes que viven en barrios con una fuerte presencia de pandillas tal vez conocen a pandilleros, pueden incluso ser amables y asociarse públicamente con ellos, o viven en la misma casa, dijo. Pero eso no significa que ellos se consideran un miembro de la pandilla, que se dedican a la actividad delictiva o que están bajo las ordenes de la pandilla, dijo, explicando que la dinámica es muy compleja.

“Los mandatos  judiciales antipandillas en la ciudad de Los Ángeles son permanentes. La violación de los términos de la orden judicial es un delito menor punible con hasta 6 meses de prisión y/o una multa de $1.000”, Rob Wilcox, director de comunicaciones de la oficina del fiscal de la ciudad le dijo a EGP el lunes vía email.

Durante el foro, Martínez dijo que hay un proceso para eliminarse del mandato judicial, mediante una solicitud que encuentran en la página web de la oficina del Fiscal (http://www.atty.lacity.org/CRIMINAL/GangInjunctions/index.htm). Hasta la fecha, 130 personas han solicitado removerse. Wilcox dijo que el proceso toma tiempo para completar y puede variar de un caso a otro, dependiendo de cuánto tiempo tome para investigar a la información presentada.

Cerda ve las pandillas como un problema de salud pública que debe ser resuelto, no con órdenes de alejamiento, pero con la prevención y orientación. Ella dijo que la pobreza y la calidad de vida contribuyen a la participación en pandillas. El noventa por ciento de familias que su programa sirve no tienen transporte y en otros casos hasta cinco o seis personas comparten un apartamento de una recamara, dijo.

“Las estrategias de la ley son inadecuadas, tiene que haber un equilibrio” entre la prevención y la ejecución, agregó.

“Los jóvenes de 10-15 años son los más vulnerables”, ya sea porque vienen de familias con miembros de pandillas multi-generacionales o debido a la pobreza extrema, dijo Cerda. Ellos sufren de síndrome de estrés postraumático, dijo Cerda.

“Tenemos que invertir tanto como podamos” para mantener a los jóvenes fuera de la cárcel, acordó Bert.

El teniente del LAPD División Noreste John Cook aplaude a organizaciones como Aztecs Rising en Lincoln Heights que proporcionan prevención y servicio de intervención en la zona noreste.

“[Ellos] los llevan a lugares donde nunca han ido”, dijo. “Les ayudan a obtener puestos de trabajo y les ayudan a terminar la escuela”.

La ciudad de Los Ángeles recientemente aprobó $5.5 millones adicionales para programas de Reducción de Pandillas y Desarrollo de Jóvenes (GRYD).

Gemma Márquez, quien da clases en la Escuela Intermedia Burbank le dijo a EGP que las reuniones que sólo dan estadísticas no valen nada. Ella espera que el LAPD participe más con la comunidad y proporcione recursos reales.

Citando su trabajo con el Hospital Infantil y otros grupos de la comunidad que trabajan en la prevención, Bert dijo que la policía del noreste está trabajando para crear asociaciones en la comunidad.

Pero no se puede negar que los mandatos judiciales antipandillas continúan siendo una importante herramienta de aplicación de la ley que está ayudando a LAPD a reducir la actividad de pandillas, agregó.

“Es muy fácil anunciar el crimen, pero es más difícil atacarlo”, dijo Bert.

—-

Twitter @jackieguzman

jgarcia@egpnews.com

Recent Violence Sparks Debate Over Gang Injunction ‘Tool’

May 7, 2015 by · 2 Comments 

Former gang member Abraham Colunga recalls the morning he was arrested for violating an order prohibiting gang members from associating with other gang members.

He said he was walking his daughter to school when he was suddenly taken into custody by police. His alleged crime? Being asked by a neighbor sitting in a police patrol car to notify his family that he had been arrested, a violation of a South Gate gang injunction.

He says the short conversation led to his arrest.

Lea este artículo en Español: Reciente Aumento de Violencia Provoca Debate Sobre Ordenes Judiciales 

“…I was taken to jail for 90 days,” he said during a forum in Highland Park last week where panelists debated the value of gang injunctions as a crime fighting tool.

Colunga says gang injunctions make it harder for gang members to turn their lives around, to get jobs, or to even be with family.

Panelists, representing the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office, Los Angeles Police Department, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), gang intervention programs as well as two former gang members, all agreed gang violence is a serious problem, each coming at the issue from the unique perspective of their jobs and what they’ve experienced.

The forum, hosted by the Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council, was held at Franklin High School. It comes on the heels of a recent surge in gang related shootings in Northeast Los Angeles.

A panel of representatives of law enforcement, organizations and real testimonies spoke about the gang injunctions on Thursday. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

A panel of representatives of law enforcement, organizations and real testimonies spoke about the gang injunctions on Thursday. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

Capt. Jeffrey Bert with LAPD’s northeast division attributed the rising violence to feuding between the Avenues and HLP gangs in Highland Park. So far this year, gang related crime is up 67% compared to last year, Bert said. There were 20 shootings between Avenues and Highland Park between February 6, 2015 and April 18, 2015; some of the victims were innocent bystanders.

In response, LAPD has stepped up the number of officers patrolling the area as some residents  call for greater gang suppression tactics.

Gang injunctions are such a tool, said City Attorney Arturo Martinez, who explained injunctions are civil court orders prohibiting gang members from congregating with each other or committing crimes on behalf of the gang enterprise. Considered by law enforcement to be one of the most effective legal gang suppression tools, gang injunctions detail activities that are restricted in a an identified gang territory, such as tagging, selling or possessing drugs or a gun, drinking in public or staying out after an imposed curfew: all activities one panelists said are already crimes and don’t need a gang injunction to be considered illegal.

There are currently more than 46 permanent gang injunctions in place in Los Angeles, according to the City Attorney’s website. Three target gangs in Highland Park: Avenues, HLP and Dogtown.

How gang injunctions are obtained and enforced has changed over the years in response to what they’ve learned, explained Martinez.

He said the department no longer lists the names of believed gang members on the injunctions. Instead, they target the gang as a criminal entity, similar to what the federal government did with the Mafia. To convict someone of a gang injunction violation, there must be sufficient evidence proving the person acted in a way that benefits the gang and harms the community.

“We have served 504 members of Avenues since April 2003, 51 members of Dogtown since January 2009, and 141 members of Highland Park since December of 2006,” and that contributed to the large drop in crime we had before now, Capt. Bert said.

Catherine Wagner of the Southern California Chapter of the ACLU said gang injunctions violate an individual’s right to due process. She said some people don’t know they are subject to the injunction until they are arrested for violating a misdemeanor and have to prove in court why the gang injunction should not apply to them.

The process “puts the burden on the individual to prove he or she is not a gang member” when it should be the government proving it has cause to curtail your rights, Wagner said.

She said the injunctions criminalize activities most people take for granted, like visiting a family member in the hospital or going to a park, even when there is no evidence of illegal activity going on, and that’s wrong.

According to Alba S. Cerda, director of youth violence and gang prevention with Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, there is a strong disconnect between whether a person thinks of them self as a gang member and what law enforcement thinks. Young people living in a neighborhood with a strong gang presence will know gang members, they may even be friendly and associate publicly with them, or live in the same house, she said. But that doesn’t mean they consider themselves a member of the gang or are engaged in criminal activity or doing the gang’s bidding, she said, explaining the dynamics are very complex.

“Gang injunctions in the City of LA are permanent. Violating the terms of the injunction is a criminal misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in jail and/or $1,000 fine,” Rob Wilcox, director of community engagement and outreach for the City Attorney’s office told EGP via email.

During the forum however, Martinez said there is a process for removing one’s self from the injunction order, starting with an application on the city attorney’s website. To date, 130 people have applied for removal. Wilcox said the process takes some time to complete and can vary case to case depending on how long it takes to vet the information submitted.

Cerda sees gangs as a public health issue that needs to be solved, not with restraining orders, but with prevention and guidance. She said poverty and quality of life issues contribute to gang involvement. Ninety percent of the families her program serves don’t have transportation; as many as five or six people share a one bedroom apartment, she said.

“Law enforcement strategies are inadequate, there has to be a balance” between prevention and enforcement, she said.

“Youth 10-15 are the most vulnerable,” either because they come from multi-generational gang member families or due to the extreme poverty, Cerda said. They suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome; … from being in a home where a raid takes place, Cerda said.

“We need to invest as much as we can” to keep young people out of jail, agreed Bert.

LAPD Northeast Division Lt. John Cook applauds organizations like Aztecs Rising in Lincoln Heights that provide prevention and intervention service in the northeast area.

“They take them to places where they have never been,” he said. “They help them find jobs and help them finish school.”

L.A. recently approved an additional $5.5 million for Gang Reduction Youth Development (GRYD) programs.

Gemma Marquez teaches at Burbank Middle School and told EGP that meetings that only give out statistics are worthless. She hopes LAPD participates more with the community and provides real resources.

Citing his work with Childrens Hospital and other community groups working on prevention, Bert said northeast police are working to build partnerships in the community.

But there’s no denying that gang injunctions are still an important law enforcement tool that is helping LAPD suppress gang activity, he added.

“It’s very easy to call about crime, but it’s harder to fight it,” said Bert.

—-

Twitter @jackieguzman

jgarcia@egpnews.com

Rules for LAPD Body Cameras Approved

April 30, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

The Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners signed off Tuesday on rules for the use of body cameras for LAPD officers, clearing the way for the department to begin equipping personnel with the device over the coming months.

The commission voted 3-1 to approve the policies, with Commissioner Robert Saltzman casting the lone dissenting vote, following nearly two hours of debate that at times turned contentious.

Saltzman said he was “frustrated” that commissioners and the public were not able to view and comment on the policies before the LAPD reached an agreement with the police officers’ union on body cameras.

He said he was concerned about giving officers who are involved in police shootings or other use-of-force cases the ability to view the video footage before giving their statements.

Saltzman also said the policies do not address the issue of whether the video footage will be released to the public, nor do they address any limitations as to how the department will be able to use the footage.

Commission President Steve Soboroff countered that the public has had many opportunities to give input on the policies over the past few months. He also said the commission will have the opportunity to re-assess the policies in six months, once the officers have actually put the body cameras to use.

Peter Bibring, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, told the commission Tuesday that the ACLU no longer supports the body camera policy, despite being “optimistic” when the 18-month policy drafting process began.

The body camera policy “fails to address some crucial issues,” including allowing officers to view footage while they are being investigated, Bibring said.

Giving officers the chance to view the footage before giving their statements “taints officer testimony” and would “assist officers who are inclined to do so in lying” about what happened, he said.

LAPD Police Administrator Arif Alikhan said that the release of the body camera video footage was not addressed in the use-policy because the department will “abide by the law,” which includes complying with court orders.

He also said releasing the footage to the public would have a “tremendous cost.”

Chief Charlie Beck said as a general rule, the footage is considered evidence, which is not automatically released to the public, but that does not mean he will never release the footage.

The rules address questions of when the video cameras must be turned on, how long the recordings should last, how the devices are to be maintained and inspected, how the footage should be stored and if officers are allowed to immediately view the recordings.

Under the policy, officers involved in use-of-force incidents, such as police shootings, would not be allowed to view footage from a body camera unless the force investigator gives permission, but officers must view the video before being interviewed by investigators.

The policy also calls for body cameras to be activated before an investigation or enforcement action begins, such as vehicle or pedestrian stops, car and foot chases, searches, arrests, use-of-force, witness and victim interviews, and crowd control.

If an officer is unable to activate the camera in time, or if the camera fails to record, the officer must note the reasons and circumstances in a daily log.

Under the rules, officers are be allowed to stop recording if the witnesses or victims being interviewed say they will not make a statement on camera, and as long as the encounter is not confrontational.

Officers can decide not to record if they feel it would interfere with an investigation — such as in a rape, incest or sexual assault cases — or due to a victim’s or witness’ age, emotional or physical state or other sensitive factors.

They can also deactivate the camera if they feel the life of an undercover officer or informant is in danger, and if they are in a healthcare area with patients or at a rape treatment center.

In a prepared statement issued Tuesday morning, Craig Lally, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the labor union representing police officers, said the LAPPL “worked closely” over the past several months to develop the draft policy.

Video recordings are “extremely beneficial for providing a reliable account of events and helping officers to get criminals off the streets,” the statement said, but are also “critical for our officers and the public to remember” that the cameras offer only a “limited perspective and are not to be relied upon as the sole piece of evidence.”

It should be used “in conjunction with all other available evidence, including witness statements, officer interviews, forensic analyses and documentary evidence when evaluating what has occurred and/or the appropriateness of the officer’s actions,” according to Lally.

Lally said the union supports the policy, which he feels “balances everyone’s rights and interests,” adding that the body cameras “will help promote mutual accountability, accuracy and assistance in the continued effort to strengthen the community’s trust as LAPD officers strive to protect and serve the residents of Los Angeles.”

The department plans to initially assign 860 Taser Axon body cameras — donated to the city through Police Commission fundraising efforts — to officers in the Central, Mission and Newton police divisions.

Mayor Eric Garcetti recently proposed buying another 7,000 cameras to outfit all of LAPD’s patrol officers.

Alcalde Eric Garcetti Presenta Presupuesto Enfocándose en Seguridad Pública

April 23, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

El alcalde de Los Ángeles, Eric Garcetti, presentó el lunes su proyecto de presupuesto donde refuerza la seguridad pública, garantiza la financiación para un mínimo de 10.000 agentes de la policía e impulsa iniciativas para prevenir y combatir las pandillas, entre otros puntos.

El proyecto de presupuesto para el próximo año fiscal, que se eleva a un total de $8.570 millones fue calificado por el mandatario como “el más sano en años”.

“Como todos sabemos, estamos saliendo de un gran hueco causado por la Gran Recesión, por lo que estamos reconstruyendo las finanzas de nuestra ciudad de una manera que es responsable y proporciona la estabilidad y el equilibrio a largo plazo”, destacó el lunes Garcetti en rueda de prensa.

La iniciativa fiscal propuesta para comenzar a aplicarse el 1 de julio, incluye $5,5 millones para expandir el programa de Desarrollo de la Juventud y Reducción de Pandillas, una iniciativa de larga trayectoria en la ciudad.

Además de respaldar el número de agentes de policía que han sido considerados como indispensable para garantizar la seguridad de las áreas patrulladas por el Departamento de Policía de Los Ángeles (LAPD), la propuesta de Garcetti incluye una partida para la compra de 7.000 cámaras personales portátiles para uso de los agentes.

En apoyo a otra medida de seguridad anunciada previamente junto con el jefe de LAPD, el comandante Charlie Beck, el presupuesto incluye $565.000 para extender un programa de respuesta al abuso doméstico a todas las estaciones de policía.

Los ingresos previstos calculan un aumento de 5,5 por ciento con relación al presupuesto actual, incluyendo impuestos a la propiedad, a las ventas y a las ganancias de los hoteles, principalmente.

Igualmente, Garcetti propuso contratar 180 bomberos más y reducir el tiempo de respuesta de las ambulancias comprando más vehículos para ese departamento.

Manteniendo su filosofía de restricción a los aumentos de salario, el mandatario recalcó que no piensa ofrecer incrementos a los cerca de 20.000 trabajadores civiles de la ciudad.

Algunos de estos trabajadores sindicalizados, han amenazado recientemente con declarar la huelga debido a la falta de avance en las negociaciones.

En otros aspectos, la ciudad gastará $4,1 millones adicionales a la partida actual para la limpieza de calles y callejones, agregará 1.500 cubos de basura, dispondrá $1 millón más para el mantenimiento de los baños en los parques públicos e incrementará el presupuesto de poda de árboles en un 50 por ciento.

Con una población calculada por el censo del 2013 en 3,88 millones de habitantes, de los cuales el 48,5 por ciento es hispano, Los Ángeles es la segunda ciudad más poblada del país, después de Nueva York.

 

City Council Approves LAPD Raises

April 23, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

The Los Angeles City Council signed off Wednesday on a four-year labor contract that will provide raises for 9,900 Los Angeles Police Department officers.

The contract with the Los Angeles Police Protective League does not provide any increases for 2014 or 2015, but calls for a 4 percent cost-of-living adjustment in July 2016, followed by a 2 percent increase in July 2017 and another 2 percent in January 2018.

The labor contract also sets a higher starting annual salary, bringing it to $57,420 from $49,924.

The contract also puts $80 million toward overtime costs in fiscal year 2015-16, $90 million in 2016-17 and $100 million in 2017-18. The city had previously been banking overtime payments and promising to pay officers later.

The contract includes a 5 percent increase in health-care subsidies, a $500 increase in the annual uniform allowance and an optional overtime buy-down and increase in cash overtime.

The contract’s term began July 1, 2014, and runs through June 30, 2018.

The contract is expected to cost the city an additional $120.9 million over the lifeof the contract, with $320,000 added in the first year, $10.38 million in 2015-16, $61.04 million the following year and $49.16 million in the final year. The city also expected to pay another $80 million to $100 million each year for overtime.

The union rejected a different contract proposal last summer that would have boosted starting annual salaries, but included no salary increases for existing employees.

The city spends about $990 million a year on police salaries, and the health-care subsidy increase will begin in July, city officials said.

Incremento de Tiroteos en Highland Park Preocupa a Residentes

April 9, 2015 by · 1 Comment 

Dos personas fueron baleadas en plena luz del día martes en Highland Park cerca de la cuadra 300 N. Avenida 59 entre Monte Vista y Terrace Drive, a poca distancia de una escuela parroquial y un área mayoritariamente residencial.

Con este se acumulan 14 tiroteos relacionados con las pandillas en menos de dos meses, y con 11 personas heridas.

El martes a las 4:30pm, según la policía, unos sospechosos en un vehículo plateado abrieron fuego contra las víctimas, aún no identificadas, pero descritos como dos hombres latinos de 19 y 22 años de edad. Las víctimas están en condición estable, según el Comandante de la Policía de Los Ángeles Robert Argos. Se dispararon entre seis a ocho tiros.

Read this article in English: Surge in Highland Park Gang Shootings Has People Worried

Este último tiroteo se produce menos de una semana de que residentes preocupados llenaran el Centro de Personas Mayores de Highland Park durante una reunión para escuchar lo que la policía y los funcionarios de la ciudad están haciendo para conseguir que la erupción de tiroteos disminuyan.

Se trata de una guerra entre dos pandillas rivales – Avenidas y HLP – pero no todas las víctimas son miembros de pandillas, dijo el Capitán Anthony Oddo de la División Noreste del Departamento de Policía de Los Ángeles (LAPD). Dijo que la mayoría de las víctimas lesionadas son hombres entre las edades de 18 y 29. Ninguno de los sospechosos han sido arrestados.

El Consejo Vecinal del Histórico Highland Park organizó la reunión del 2 de abril con representantes de los dos distritos concejales que cubren el área CD-1 y CD-14, de la oficina de la Supervisora Hilda Solis y la oficina del fiscal de la ciudad. La Comisionado de LAPD Sandra Figueroa Villa, el Comandante Arcos, y oficiales de alto rango de la División Noreste participaron en la discusión contestando preguntas y tomando las críticas de los residentes.

Sabemos que hay un problema y estamos recibiendo refuerzos, incluyendo más unidades de patrulla y equipos especiales de otras áreas, dijo Oddo.

Señaló la audacia de los tiroteos, varios de los cuales tuvieron lugar en plena luz del día con mucha gente alrededor.

Un patrón que se repitió el martes.

Y a las 7pm del 25 de febrero en el Centro de Recreación de Highland Park donde dos mujeres inocentes resultaron heridas por disparos que estaban dirigidos a dos miembros de la pandilla HLP, pero fallaron el blanco, según la policía. El sospechoso o sospechosos se cree que son miembros de Avenidas, dijo el viernes a EGP el Teniente John Cook de la Unidad de Pandillas de LAPD División Noreste.

El 22 de marzo, una persona en un auto fue baleada cerca del parque Garvanza alrededor de las 5pm mientras acontecía un juego de béisbol de jovenes. La policía sospecha que el tiroteo fue hecho por HLP en represalia por un tiroteo de Avenidas la noche anterior, dijo Cook.

Parece que HLP ha disparado a Avenidas 8 veces, y Avenidas a HLP 5 veces, dijo Cook.

El tiroteo del martes fue en territorio de HLP.

“Tenemos gente en el vecindario, que son probablemente testigos pero no vienen a acusarlos” porque tienen miedo, dijo Cook.

“Es muy raro que un tiroteo pase frente a nosotros”, por lo que necesitamos la ayuda del público, agregó.

La semana pasada, Oddo dijo que han habido 105 arrestos en el área de Highland Park durante el mismo período, pero ninguno los ha llevado a los sospechosos de los tiroteos, pero espera que uno de estos pueda llevarlos a un sospechoso.

El Comandante de LAPD Robert Argos responde a las preocupaciones de los residentes de Highland Park. (EGP foto por Jacqueline García)

El Comandante de LAPD Robert Argos responde a las preocupaciones de los residentes de Highland Park. (EGP foto por Jacqueline García)

Tal vez las personas no están seguras si su sospecha es importante, pero la más pequeña información, cosas que se escuchan entre personas pueden ser examinadas y pueden conducir a alguna parte, dijo, instando a la gente a llamar a la policía con cualquier información que tengan.

Varios residentes se quejaron puesto que se veía venir esto desde hace algún tiempo, debido al aumento de graffiti y “tachaduras”, la práctica de una pandilla tachando el nombre de un rival, que a menudo conduce a represalias violentas.

Los residentes dicen que llaman a los removedores de graffiti inmediatamente para que limpien y así tratar de detener la violencia que podría venir después, pero quieren saber que más se puede hacer.

Llamen cuando vean algo, conozcan a sus vecinos, formen un grupo de vigilancia vecinal, fueron algunas de las sugerencias.

“No podemos hacer esto solos, necesitamos que la comunidad se involucre”, dijeron los oficiales.

En una zona donde ha habido un significante debate sobre el valor de la ‘gentrificación’, es importante tener en cuenta que la mayoría de la gente que asistió a la reunión son residentes de muchos años en Highland Park. Varias personas que hablaron o hicieron preguntas dijeron que han vivido en el mismo lugar durante décadas, y aun recuerdan la violencia de guerras entre pandillas pasadas.

Conocemos los signos, dijo la Presidenta del Consejo Vecinal Mónica Alcaraz antes de pedir que levantaran la mano quienes han vivido en la comunidad durante 20 años o más; 80% de los asistentes lo hizo.

Los residentes expresaron preocupación de que la AB 109 y la realineación de la prisión por parte del gobernador, y aprobación de la Proposición 47 están liberando a los criminales y mandándolos de nuevo a sus vecindarios antes de tiempo.

Un orador dijo que los miembros de pandillas pasan tiempo en los campamentos de los desamparados y ha escuchado que pagan a los desamparados con drogas para robar en casas y autos.

El residente Richard Márquez dijo que es hora de dejar de estar adivinando y hablar de la verdadera causa: Highland Park tiene un gran problema con los distribuidores y usuarios de metanfetamina, y es mucho dinero. “Los traficantes de metanfetamina pagan impuestos a los miembros de pandillas” y la manera de detener los disparos es detener el tráfico de drogas, dijo.

“Hay una lucha por el beneficio económico del territorio de drogas en los vecindarios”, agregó Márquez.

Cook dijo que están monitoreando de cerca a pandilleros que salen de la cárcel.

Alguien le preguntó si todavía están los mandatos judiciales en su lugar.

Hay tres mandatos de pandillas—una orden de restricción emitida por un tribunal que prohíbe a los miembros de pandillas reconocidas se reúnan con entre sí—en el lugar, (Avenidas, Dogtown, HLP), pero que no se aplican a los nuevos miembros de pandillas, según Cook.

La ex residente de Highland Park Lily Herrera dijo que está preocupada por su madre que aún vive en el vecindario. Años de desconfianza de los residentes a la policía les previene de hablar. “La comunidad tiene miedo porque hay una barrera” cuando se trata de comunicación, dijo Herrera.

Sugirió a LAPD explorar más estrategias para acercarse a la comunidad.

La Maestra Gemma Márquez exigió saber por qué la policía no visita regularmente las escuelas primarias locales para desarrollar esas relaciones. “Sabemos quienes son los niños en situación de riesgo”, dijo ella. “Conocemos a las familias, los vemos desde el preescolar” y la policía se tiene que presentar desde un punto de vista diferente.

También criticó los oficiales por no notificar a la escuela Primaria Garvanza y ponerlos bajo cierre de emergencia durante el tiroteo en el parque Garvanza. “¿Dónde estaban ustedes? Deberían haberlos llamado”.

Oddo se disculpó por no tener en cuenta que había estudiantes en el programa después de clases a las 5pm cuando ocurrió el tiroteo.

Cook le dijo a EGP que es difícil para la Unidad de Pandillas de la División Noreste—compuesta de 15 oficiales y dos sargentos—participar en presentaciones en las escuelas constantemente, ya que resta recursos en la noche, cuando se necesitan más agentes.

“Si nos llaman en una escuela para hacer una presentación [durante el día] lo haremos, pero tengan en cuenta, que esto nos quita nuestra función principal para estar en la calle cuando hay actividad criminal”, dijo. “Los tiroteos ocurren en la noche”.

Por esa razón, cuando la policía identifica a los pandilleros o jóvenes en riesgo de involucrarse en pandillas los refieren a grupos de intervención como Aztecs Rising, que forma parte del programa de Reducción de Pandillas y Desarrollo Juvenil (GRYD) en el noreste de Los Ángeles.

Cook dijo que la Unidad de Pandillas de LAPD intenta participar en eventos públicos tanto les sea posible, como el evento del sábado organizado por Aztecs Rising del día de Pascua o durante el Programa de Summer Night Lights en el verano. “Esa es la oportunidad [para los oficiales de LAPD] para hablar con los niños pequeños”, dijo.

Cook dijo que han identificado “dos personas que estuvieron involucradas en el parque Garvanza disparando [que] pueden ser los sospechosos de tal vez dos o tres tiroteos más.

LAPD “recibe muy poca [información]” de la comunidad y eso es frustrante, Oddo le dijo a los asistentes de la reunión de la semana pasada. Dijo que su principal prioridad es la violencia en el noreste, pero necesita que la gente los llame cuando vean algo.

Dos eventos próximos proporcionarán más información y recursos a la comunidad: la Marcha Anual de la Paz en el Noreste y Feria de Recursos para el 18 de abril, y un foro sobre los mandatos judiciales el 30 de abril en el Centro de Personas Mayores de Highland Park.

—-

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Surge in Highland Park Gang Shootings Has People Worried

April 9, 2015 by · 6 Comments 

Two people were shot in broad daylight Tuesday in Highland Park near the 300 block of North Avenue 59 and Terrace Drive, just blocks from a parochial school and in an area of mostly single-family homes.

The shooting brings to 14 the number of gang-related shootings in less than two months, and the number of people injured to 11.

At 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, according to police, a suspect in a silver vehicle opened fire on the victims, still unidentified but described as two male Latinos, ages 19 and 22. The victims are said to be in stable condition, according to LAPD Commander Robert Argos.

Lea este artículo en Español: Incremento de Tiroteos en Highland Park Preocupa a Residentes

The latest shooting comes less than a week after worried residents packed a meeting at the Highland Park Senior Center to hear what police and city officials are doing to get the rash of shootings under control.

This is a turf war between two rival gangs – Avenues and HLP – but not all the victims are gang members, said Capt. Anthony Oddo of the Los Angeles Police Dept.’s Northeast Division. He said the majority of the victims injured are males between the ages of 18 and 29. None of the shooters have been arrested.

The Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council hosted the April 2 meeting, with representatives of the two city council districts in the area, CD-1 and CD-14, Supervisor Hilda Solis and the city attorney’s office in attendance.

LAPD Commissioner Sandra Figueroa Villa, Commander Robert Arcos, and ranking officers assigned to the Northeast Division were also out in force, doing most of the talking, answering questions and taking criticism from residents.

We know there is a problem and we are getting reinforcements, including more patrol units and special teams from other areas, Oddo said.

He pointed out the boldness of the shootings, several of which took place in broad daylight with many people around.

A pattern repeated Tuesday.

And at 7 p.m. on Feb. 25 at the Highland Park Recreation Center where two innocent females were injured by gunfire police say was targeted at two HLP gang members, but missed its mark. The suspect or suspects are believed to be members of the Avenues, LAPD’s Northeast Gang Unit Lt. John Cook told EGP.

On March 22, a person in a car was shot at Garvanza Park. The shooting took place at 5 p.m. as a youth baseball game was being played at the crowded park. Police suspect the shooting was in retaliation for an Avenues’ shooting the night before, Cook said.

It appears HLP has targeted the Avenues 8 times, and the Avenue targeted HLP 5 times, Cook added.

Tuesday’s shooting was in HLP territory.

“We have people in the neighborhood, they are probably witnesses, but they are not coming forth” because they’re afraid, Cook said.

“It’s very rare that a shooting will happen in front of us” so we need the public’s help, he said.

Last week, Oddo said 105 arrests have been made in the Highland Park area during the same period, but none have led to the shooters.

LAPD officers explain when and where the 13 shootings happened at a meeting in Highland Park. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

LAPD officers explain when and where the 13 shootings happened at a meeting in Highland Park. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

You may not be sure if it’s important, but the smallest bit of information may lead somewhere, he said, urging people to call police. You can do it anonymously, he added.

Several residents complained they’ve seen this coming for months, noting the increase in graffiti and “cross outs,” the practice of one gang crossing out the tag of a rival that often leads to violent retaliation.

They said they call the graffiti in right away to get it cleaned up and to try to stop the violence that could come next, but wanted to know what else they could do.

Call in what you see, get to know your neighbors, form a neighborhood watch, were among the suggestions.

“We cannot do this alone, we need the community to get involved,” officers said.

In a neighborhood where there’s been a lot of debate over the value of gentrification, it should be noted that the majority of people at the meeting are long time Highland Park residents. Several people who spoke or asked questions said they have lived in the neighborhood for decades and remember all to well the violence of past gang wars.

We know the signs, said neighborhood council President Monica Alcaraz before asking those who have lived in the community for 20 years or longer to raise their hand: 80% did.

Residents expressed concern that the governor’s prison realignment and passage of Proposition 47 are sending criminals released early from jail back into their neighborhood.

One speaker said gang members are hanging out at homeless encampments and she’s heard the homeless are being paid with drugs to burglarize local homes and cars.

Resident Richard Marquez said it’s time to stop dancing around and talk about the real issue: Highland Park has a big problem with meth dealers and users and it’s big money. “Meth dealers pay taxes to gang members.” To stop the shootings you have to shut down the drug trade, he said.

Cook said they are closely monitoring gang members coming out of jail.

Former Highland Park resident Lily Herrera said she is worried about her mother who still lives in the neighborhood. She believes years of mistrust of the police is keeping people from saying what they know. “The community is afraid because there’s a barrier,” Herrera said.

She suggested LAPD explore more strategies to reach out to the community.

Teacher Gemma Marquez demanded to know why police are not regularly visiting local elementary schools to develop those relationships. Like going to the dentist twice a year to prevent cavities, police should visit schools twice a year to give at risk-students a positive view of police, she said.

“We know who the at-risk kids are,” she said. “We know the families, we see them as early as kindergarten.”

She also criticized officers for not notifying Garvanza Elementary to go on lock-down during the shooting at Garvanza Park. “Where were you! We should have been called.”

Oddo apologized for not considering students were still at the afterschool program at 5 p.m. when the shooting occured.

Cook told EGP it’s difficult for the Northeast LAPD Gang Unit—comprised of 15 officers and two sergeants—to participate in school appearances. “If we are called upon to go to a school to make a presentation [during the day] we will do it, but understand, that takes away our primary function to be out on the street when there’s criminal activity,” he said. “Shootings occur at night.”

That’s one of the reasons police turn over the names of identified gang members or at-risk youth to intervention groups such as Aztecs Rising, part of the Gang Reduction Youth Development (GRYD) program in Northeast L.A.

Cook said the LAPD Gang Unit tries to be at as many public events as possible, such as Aztecs Rising’s Easter Egg Hunt last Saturday or during the Summer Night Light Program. That’s the opportunity to talk to young children, he said.

According to Cook, police have identified two people involved in the Garvanza shooting “[who] may be the shooters in perhaps two or three other shootings.”

Residents can learn more about the violence and local resources at two upcoming events: the Annual Peace in the Northeast March and Resource Fair on April 18, and a forum on gang injunctions April 30 at the Highland Park Senior Center.

“The days of not getting involved have to end, said Oddo, “if they don’t, the shootings won’t stop.”

—-

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Surge in Highland Park Gang Shootings Has People Worried

April 3, 2015 by · 1 Comment 

Worried about a rash of gang-related shootings in their neighborhood, residents packed a meeting at the Highland Park Senior Center Thursday night to hear what police are doing to get the situation under control.

A turf war between two rival gangs – Avenues and HLP – is being blamed for the 13 shootings, 9 people shot, in less than two months. Not all the victims were gang members, said Capt. Anthony Oddo of the Los Angeles Police Dept. Northeast Division.

He pointed out the boldness of the shootings, several which took place in broad daylight with many people around.

The Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council hosted the meeting, with representatives of the two city council districts that cover the area, CD-1 and CD-14, LAPD Police Commissioner Sandra Figueroa-Villa, Supervisor Hilda Solis and the city attorney’s office in attendance.

Ranking officers assigned to the Los Angeles Police Department’s Northeast Division were out in force and did most of the talking, answering questions and taking criticism from residents.

Northeast police know there is a problem and we are getting reinforcements, including more patrol units and special teams from other areas, Oddo said.

But we are getting very little information from the public about the shootings and none of the shooters are in custody, he said.

“Victims are not talking to us … they are not gang members; they’re scared,” the captain said, adding the department needs the public’s help to stop the shootings.

There has been 105 arrests in the Highland Park area during the same period, but none have led to the shooters, he said, but he’s hopeful one may still lead to a suspect.

You may not be sure if it’s important, but the smallest bit of information, things heard from other people can be looked into and may lead somewhere, he said, urging people to call police with any information they may have.

Several residents complained they’ve seen this coming for some time, noting the increase in graffiti and “cross outs,” the practice of one gang crossing out the tag of a rival, which often leads to violent retaliation.

They say they call the graffiti in right away to get cleaned up to try to stop the violence that could come next, but wanted to know what else they could do.

Call in what you see, get to know your neighbors, form a neighborhood watch, were among the suggestions.

“We cannot do this alone, we need the community to get involved,” officers said.

Residents say they are worried AB 109 and the governor’s prison realignment, and passage of Proposition 47, are sending criminals released early from jail back into their neighborhood.

One speaker said gang members are hanging out at homeless encampments and  she’s heard the homeless are being paid with drugs to burglarize local homes and cars.

Resident Richard Marquez said it’s time to stop dancing around and talk about the real issue: Highland Park has a big problem with meth dealers and users, and it’s big money. “Meth dealers pay taxes to gang members” and the way to stop the shootings is to shut down the drug trade, he said.

“There’s a fight for the financial gain of the drug turf in the neighborhoods,” Marquez said.

Lt. John Cook is in charge of Northeast’s gang reduction unit and said they are closely monitoring the gang members coming out of jail.

Are there still gang injunctions in place? someone asked.

There are three gang injunctions—a court-issued restraining order prohibiting known gang members from congregating with each other— in place, (Avenues, Dogtown, HLP), but they don’t apply to new gang members, according to Cook.

Former Highland Park resident Lily Herrera said she is worried about her mother who still lives in the neighborhood. Years of mistrust of the police by residents is keeping people from saying what they know. “The community is afraid because there’s a barrier” when it comes to communication, she said.

She suggested LAPD explore more strategies to reach out to the community.

Teacher Gemma Marquez demanded to know why police are not regularly visiting local elementary schools to develop those relationships. “We know who the at-risk kids are,” she said. “We know the families, we see them as early as kindergarten,” and the police need to present a different view.

She also criticized officers for not notifying Garvanza Elementary to go on lock-down during a recent shooting at a nearby park. “Where were you! We should have been called.”

Oddo apologized for not considering students were still at the afterschool program at 5 p.m. when the shooting occurred.

LAPD has “very little coming in” from the community and that’s frustrating, said Oddo. He said his top priority is the violence in the Northeast, but said he needs people to call them when they see something.

Two upcoming events will provide more information and resources to the community: the Annual Peace in the Northeast March and Resource Fair on April 18, and a forum on gang injunctions April 30 at the Highland Park Senior Center.

Updated 04-06-15 to add LAPD Commissioner Sandra Figueroa-Villa attended the meeting.

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