Sups. to Re-Evaluate Anti-Gang Tactics

April 28, 2016 by · 1 Comment 

The Board of Supervisors Tuesday directed county staffers to re-evaluate anti-gang tactics employed over the last two decades under a partnership with the Los Angeles Police Department.

Supervisors Hilda Solis and Sheila Kuehl proposed taking a second look at the Community Law Enforcement and Recovery program, known as CLEAR.

“We need to have more inclusivity,” Solis said.

Kuehl said she was reminded of outdated efforts to solve student truancy by handing out tickets to offenders, rather than looking at the underlying issues driving absences.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said the multi-agency program – aimed at “recovery of gang-infested communities” – was adopted in 1997, when he was a Los Angeles City Council member.

But based on a recent rise in gang violence and the fact that more than half of the city’s homicides are believed to be gang-related, Ridley-Thomas said it was time to reconsider whether CLEAR was working.

“The default (of CLEAR) is not prevention. The default is not intervention. The default is not re-entry. It’s suppression,” Ridley-Thomas said, adding that the funds might be better used for intervention or restorative justice programs.

Under the program, police presence in gang neighborhoods was stepped up and officers focused on arresting gang members. Armed probation officers ride along and participate in search and seizures and special operations targeting gang members.

The agencies share gang intelligence.

Supervisor Don Knabe asked why none of the CLEAR units, which sit in nine LAPD divisions, are based out of sheriff’s stations.

As discussion ensued, it seemed Knabe knew the answer.

“There was a different chief and a different sheriff that were having a little battle at the time,” Knabe said.

Sherman Block was sheriff at the time the program was initiated and was succeeded the following year by Lee Baca. Former LAPD Chief Willie Williams left his post in May 1997 and was replaced by Bernard Parks before the year was out.

The county currently receives $267,000 in federal and city funding for CLEAR, which offsets 15 percent of the department’s cost, according to interim Probation Chief Cal Remington.

Staffers were directed to look at how CLEAR sites were chosen, analyze the results and assess whether the program is consistent with the most recent research on effective gang intervention.
CLEAR is one of many programs aimed at reducing gang violence in Southern California.

Pot Plants, Firearms Seized in Mt. Washington and Highland Park

April 15, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

More than 1,300 marijuana plants and a cache of firearms and ammunition were seized and two brothers arrested this morning when Los Angeles police served warrants at three locations, two in northeast Los Angeles and the other in Sylmar.

The warrants were served about 6 a.m. in the 800 block of Terrace 49 in Mount Washington, the 6000 block of Tipton Way in Highland Park and the 13000 block of Bradley Avenue in Sylmar, according to Officer Matt Ludwig of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Media Relations Section.

The arrests and seizure were announced at a news conference at the LAPD’s Northeast Station.

Various types of firearms and thousands of rounds of ammunition, were seized along with about $4,500 in cash from the Mount Washington address, Ludwig said.

The seized marijuana had an approximate street value of $500,000, police said.

Livio Scagliotti, 49, was arrested at the Tipton Avenue location on suspicion of evading arrest, possession of armor piercing ammunition and possession of illegal firearms and Manuel Scagliotti, 44, was arrested at the Terrace 49 location on suspicion of burglary, Ludwig said.

Both men, who are brothers, were wanted in connection with an illegal marijuana cultivation operation that spanned about five year, police said.

Investigators allege the marijuana was grown for street sales and possibly for sales to legal pot dispensaries.

Livio Scagliotti was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail and Manuel Scagliotti in lieu of $85,000, according to sheriff’s online inmate records.

Burglary Suspect Fatally Shot by Police Identified

April 15, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Update: 11:45am April 15, 2016 Authorities identified Friday a man who was fatally shot by Los Angeles police officers while he held a man at knifepoint in a Boyle Heights apartment as Arturo Valdez, 27, with unknown home town.

He died at the scene, coroner’s Assistant Chief Ed Winter said.

Los Angeles police officers shot and killed a burglary suspect who was holding a man at knifepoint in a Boyle Heights apartment, authorities said Monday.

The deceased suspect was described by coroner’s Lt. Larry Dietz as a Hispanic man in his mid-to-late 20s.

It happened about 8:30 p.m. Sunday in an apartment in the 200 block of Park Paseo, Los Angeles police Officer Norma Eisenman said.

Officers responded to a call of a burglary in progress at the apartment, according to Eisenman.

“When the officers entered the apartment they saw the suspect holding an elderly man at knifepoint, so they fired and hit the suspect,” she said.

The suspect was pronounced dead at the scene, Eisenman said.

Police set up a command post at Utah Elementary School, near Utah Street and Plaza del Sol, police said.

Authorities Increase Security in Los Angeles After Brussels Attack

March 22, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The terror attacks at the international airport and a subway station in Brussels, Belgium that claimed at least 36 lives and injured at least 200 people has caused heightened security on Metro lines today.

Metro announced it will increase security at Union Station, Rosa Parks station and 7th/Metro.

“Metro and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Transit Policing Division are aware of the terrorist strikes in Belgium and are monitoring the situation closely,” Metro said in a statement. “While we maintain a high state of readiness at all times, we will be increasing security.”

There is no tangible threat to any transit system in Los Angeles, Transit Services Bureau spokesman Ramon Montenegro told City News Service.

“Right now, we are monitoring the situation in Brussels and maintaining close contact and communications with our county Emergency Operations Center, Homeland Security and LA Metro,” Montenegro said.

“I’m certain that we will increase security in the aftermath of these attacks on all transit lines,” Montenegro said.

“We also have special security teams that we will likely deploy later today.”

Montenegro said the security patrols include bomb-sniffing dogs that are regularly deployed along the Red Line subway route.

“Our hearts go out to the people of Brussels and to the first responders,” he said. “We just pray that no one else gets hurt there.”

Metro asked the public to be aware of their surroundings when in a transportation center and stressed the importance of calling attention to something or someone that may seem unusual.

“We are asking the public to be our eyes and ears on the system,” Metro said. “If you see something, say something.”

LAX Airport Police spokeswoman Alicia Hernandez said the department is increasing its visual presence at the airport and readying rapid deployment strategies.

“We take attacks on aviation very seriously,” Hernandez said, promising they will “make adjustments to security as necessary.”

Amtrak spokeswoman Verna Graham said the rail line also has added safety personnel.

“Amtrak police are working with state, local and federal law enforcement partners to gather and share intelligence,” Graham said.

“Extra officers have been deployed. We have reminded Amtrak employees to look for and report any suspicious activity and unattended items and reissued guidance pertaining to facility inspections and active shooter incidents.”

Metrolink, like Amtrak, also has enhanced its security and is coordinating with a variety of law enforcement agencies, Public Affairs Officer Scott Johnson said.

The same goes at the Port of Los Angeles, where spokesman Phillip Sanfield acknowledged “a proactive presence with L.A. Port Police at our containment terminals, crews terminals and throughout the port complex.”

Also, The Los Angeles Police Department deployed units to “critical infrastructures” sties throughout the city

The special deployment began at 7:30 a.m. in “major places where people congregate” such as the Grove, the Beverly Center and area synagogues, according to Officer Tony Im of the LAPD’s Media Relations Section.

Officers were expected to report to their respective stations and there was no timetable for when the special deployments will end, Im said.

Man Shot in Lincoln Heights

March 3, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

A 50-year-old man was shot in the right ankle in what police are calling a gang-related shooting Saturday in the Lincoln Heights community of Los Angeles.

Paramedics rushed the shooting victim to County/USC Medical Center in stable condition, the Los Angeles Police Department reported.

The victim was standing in front of a location in the 2800 block of Sierra Street at little after 7:30 a.m. when he was approached by a suspect who was driving a white Honda Accord.

The two men got into an argument and the suspect fired a round striking the 50-year-old man in his right ankle. The suspect then fled in the Honda in an unknown direction.

Man Taken into Custody After Standoff

March 3, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Police arrested a man who was holed up inside is Lincoln Heights home Friday armed with a shotgun, authorities said.

The man was taken into custody a little before 9 a.m., said Officer Aareon Jefferson of the LAPD’s Media Relations Section. No injuries were reported.

The suspect had gotten into an argument with his roommate at their residence in the 200 block of South Avenue 18 and pointed the shotgun at the roommate, Jefferson said.

Police were dispatched to the scene at 5:30 a.m. in response to a call reporting an assault with a deadly weapon, according to a watch commander at the LAPD’s Hollenbeck station. A SWAT team was sent to the scene and the suspect was taken into custody, said Jefferson.

Troubling Rise In LAPD Shootings of Mentally Ill

March 3, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Los Angeles police officers used force on members of the public nearly 2,000 times last year, including 21 people who were fatally shot, according to an LAPD report presented to the Police Commission Tuesday.

There were 48 police shootings, including 38 cases in which people — more than one-third of whom were mentally ill — were hit, the report found.

The shootings caused the deaths of 21 people.

The 21 fatal shootings by Los Angeles police outpaced the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, which had 14; the Houston Police Department, which had 12; and Chicago, which had eight people die from police shootings in 2015, according to the report.

The number of people considered to be mentally ill who were shot by police rose nearly 300 percent from the previous year, a rise department officials called “troubling.”

Fourteen of the 38 people shot by police in 2015 “had an indication of mental illness,” according to the report.
Half of the 38 people who were shot were carrying a gun, according to the report, and 11 officers were injured in officer-involved shootings.

Department officials emphasized that use of force by LAPD officers is still relatively rare. The 1,924 use-of-force cases in 2015 represented 0.13 percent of the 1.5 million recorded interactions between the public and the police department, according to the report.

Use of force is defined as shootings and other potentially lethal and less-than-lethal encounters with members of the public, such as head strikes, deaths while a person is in custody, the shooting of animals and K-9 contacts with the public that lead to hospitalization.

The report’s release came on the one-year anniversary of the fatal police shooting of 39-year-old Charly Keunang, who was known on Skid Row as “Africa.” The shooting, which was captured on cell phone video, sparked protests by activists who accused officers of escalating the situation and killing an unarmed man.

Some protesters briefly disrupted today’s Police Commission meeting by chanting slogans referencing Keunang’s killing.

A small group of protesters also staged a Skid Row-area rally to mark the date.

The Police Commission ruled last month that all the officers involved in the shooting followed department policy in the use of deadly force, although one officer violated policy in the tactics used.

LAPD Use-of-Force Numbers Call for More Training

March 3, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

A 300-page report released Tuesday analyzing Los Angeles Police Department data showed a significant increase in the number of officer involved shootings and use of force incidents in 2015.

The report substantiates what many have suspected all along: police are much more likely to use force when it comes to people of color, especially blacks and Latinos, and police officers appear to be woefully unprepared when it comes to dealing with the mentally ill.

The number of African Americans shot by police was disproportionately high — 21% — even though blacks only make up about 9% of the city’s population.

Latinos suffered the highest number of actual police shootings, 22 of the 38 people shot in 2015, or 58%. Latinos make up 48% of the city’s population.

Of the 174 people shot by police from 2011 through 2015, 89 were Latinos.

According to the report, more than one-third of the 38 people shot by police in 2015 were mentally ill – representing a 300% increase from the year prior.

While the number of use of force incidents and police involved shootings only represent a small fraction of all police interactions, it is disturbing that the numbers are trending significantly higher rather than going down.
It begs the questions: are the mentally ill growing in numbers and are Latinos and African Americans just being approached by police officers in greater numbers?

We believe one of the reasons a growing number of Angelenos are being subjected to deadly force is that the LAPD has not adequately trained its officers in tactics for de-escalating volatile situations, particularly those involving blacks, Latinos and the mentally ill.

It isn’t only police officers or the mentally ill who get nervous during police stops, the average person of color gets anxious when approached by the police, conditioned by generations of bad relations and police officers with pre-conceived ideas about why an ordinary person would be nervous during a police encounter.

So what can be done?

We believe there needs to be greater interaction between police and the public in regular, non-confrontational settings. LAPD should strengthen and encourage the principles of community policing and more officers should regularly walk the streets of the neighborhoods they patrol.

Larger numbers of police officers should also be encouraged to live in the inner-city.

Still, until we are able to reduce the number of homeless on city streets and the number of treatment facilities for the mentally ill are increased, we worry that deadly interactions with the police will continue to go up if the department does not step up its training on how to deal with the mentally ill.

Likewise, blacks and Latinos must do more to counsel their family members on how to remain calm and avoid unnecessary confrontations when stopped by police, hopefully avoiding the use of force.

Woman Stabbed in Boyle Heights

February 25, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

A woman suffered serious stab wounds Monday morning in Boyle Heights, authorities said.

The suspect is the victim’s brother, a news videographer reported from the scene.

The stabbing was reported at 3702 Lee St. at 12:10 a.m., said Sgt. Minh Nugyen of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Hollenbeck Station. The woman was taken to a hospital, Nugyen said.

Her assailant was believed to be inside the home where the stabbing occurred, he said.

Policing Dialogue Focuses on Eastside Youth

February 25, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Schools and law-enforcement need to address the issue of gangs more openly, 16-year old Saul Soto told area residents and police gathered at the Puente Learning Center in Boyle Heights last week.

“We need representatives going to schools, meeting with parents, talking to students,” the 10th grader said.
“We need to work together to address this issue of young men with weapons shooting at each other,” said Capt. Martin Baeza, who heads the Los Angeles Police Department’s Hollenbeck Division.

The remarks were made during “Days of Dialogue on the Future of Policing,” one of several workshops taking place across Los Angeles County organized by the Institute of Nonviolence.

The dialogue series, which kicked off in August 2015, marks the 50th Anniversary of the Watts Rebellion (or Watts riots) in 1965 and aims to ensure constructive civic engagement around the issue of police violence.

About 100 people attended the Feb. 18 workshop hosted by the Los Angeles Police Dept., Hollenbeck Division, which covers Lincoln Heights, El Sereno, Northeast LA, and Boyle Height among other areas. The event included a buffet style dinner followed by small roundtable discussions where residents shared with police their opinions on the state of policing in their neighborhoods.

Talking in real terms, Hollenbeck Capt. Martin Baeza discussed the rash of violence sweeping the area since January. Over 40 gun-related incidents have already been reported this year, he said. Sixteen people have been injured and four have been killed, a large uptick from the same period in 2015 when 16 shootings left nine people injured and one person dead, Baeza said.

Participants dialogue with Hollenbeck police officers during a workshop in Boyle Heights. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

Participants dialogue with Hollenbeck police officers during a workshop in Boyle Heights. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

“One homicide is too much already,” Baeza told the audience, adding that the community and police have to work together.

Like Baeza, Soto agrees more needs to be done to keep young people out of gangs but he said he hasn’t seen much action getting it done.

“Schools talk about sex, they talk about drugs, but they never really talk about the problem with gangs,” Soto told EGP following the workshop. “Maybe teachers are afraid because they think that if they talk about the issue, [gang members] may slash or wreck their cars” or harm them, the teen speculated.

Gangs are a big problem and do much harm in the community, acknowledged Baeza. There are about 35 gangs in the division and about two-thirds are generational, “grandfather, father and sons,” he said, explaining the deep roots they have in the community.

Some of the officers under his command also have local roots, pointed out Baeza, adding that a recent survey found that 55 of the 300 officers assigned to Hollenbeck either grew up or have some type of connection to the eastside community.

They want to help their community, Baeza said.

That doesn’t mean, however, that they can let their guard down when it comes to serious problems such as stopping an armed suspect, cautioned the captain.

“A young person pointing at an officer [with a gun] is absolute disaster,” Baeza said. He was referencing a Feb. 6 police-involved shooting that left 16-year-old Jose Mendez dead. According to police, Mendez pointed a sawed-off shotgun at officers and was fatally shot.

Kimberly Bellasol, 17, thinks the news media and social media play a big role in how law-enforcement is portrayed. She told EGP the media should use more care when reporting tragic events.

“[The media always] shows a negative side of the police,” but they never focus on the good they do, she said. “For example, I saw a story about two police officers helping a boy get ready for an interview,” it would be amazing to see more stories like that, Bellasol said.

Law-enforcement needs to engage the community more, echoed El Sereno resident Ray Rios.
Likewise, the community should to be more involved in policy making and creating resources to help teenagers gain the skills they’ll need as adults, Rios told EGP.

“Not everybody is made to attend college,” he explained. “When [young people] don’t have skills they find that their only alternative is a gang. We need to show them options,” he added.

If you want to be more engaged, start by getting to know the captain and senior lead officers in your area, urged Baeza.

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