Mujer Arrestada por Homicidio Vehicular en Boyle Heights

June 27, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Maribel Rosas, de 34 años, fue arrestada bajo sospecha de delito grave por homicidio vehicular, por chocar su Nissan Altima contra unos autos estacionados y un puesto de tacos el domingo por la noche, dijeron las autoridades.

El accidente fue reportado alrededor de las 9:25pm cerca de 376 S. Clarence Street en Boyle Heights, de acuerdo a Erik Scott del Departamento de Bomberos de Los Ángeles.

Un hombre de 50 años murió y otras ocho personas resultaron heridas, dos fueron llevadas a hospitales en estado crítico y uno fue hospitalizado con una lesión menor, dijo Scott.

Seis pacientes fueron evaluados en el lugar, pero se negaron a ser llevados a hospitales, agregó Scott.

Latest Attempt at Police Transparency Fails In California

June 23, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

ProPublica – There are numerous law enforcement scandals unfolding in Northern California.

Last month, San Francisco fired its police chief after a string of officer-involved shootings and two separate episodes involving officers sending racist text messages to one another. In Oakland, the mayor recently ousted two police chiefs in the span of five days amid a widening investigation into allegations that 14 city officers — as well as law enforcement agents from at least three other jurisdictions — had sex with a teenage prostitute. And sheriff’s deputies and corrections officers in San Francisco, Alameda County, and Santa Clara County are facing criminal charges ranging from assault to murder.

While this collection of ugly incidents will continue to generate headlines for months to come, many of the key facts are likely to remain permanently shrouded by California laws placing tight restrictions on the release of law enforcement records and information related to criminal investigations. The state, as an investigation by WNYC radio noted, is one of 23 that deem police misconduct records to be confidential; the only way to obtain such documents is through litigation in the course of a criminal case or civil lawsuit — and even then, the material often must be kept out of the public eye.

This isn’t apt to change any time soon: A California Senate bill aimed at making misconduct and disciplinary information available to the public died in committee last month.

“Police in California shouldn’t be able to operate as if they’re the CIA,” said Chauncee Smith, a legislative advocate with the ACLU of California, which sponsored the proposed legislation, SB 1286, along with the California Newspaper Publishers Association and other groups.

Authored by San Francisco Democrat Sen. Mark Leno, the bill would have offered a much clearer view of how law enforcement agencies handle serious allegations of misconduct; in the case of a controversial police shooting, for example, the public would have been entitled to obtain the entire investigative file compiled by police detectives, though any personal data would have been redacted. The legislation also would have allowed the public to learn if any discipline was imposed on the officers involved in the incident.

The bill met resistance from law enforcement organizations from around the state, including the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs and the Peace Officers Research Association of California. In a report to its members, PORAC said greater transparency would endanger officers, making them targets for people seeking revenge in the aftermath of police shootings and would generate more “mistrust” of officers.

Michael Durant, an official with the association, did not respond to a request for comment. In a statement, George Hofstetter of the deputy sheriff’s association said those behind the failed bill had been seeking to “take advantage of the climate currently surrounding law enforcement to eliminate the privacy protections of peace officers.”

The current, protected system stems from a 1978 amendment to the state penal code that bars the disclosure of the personnel records of law enforcement officers. A 2006 ruling by the California Supreme Court effectively tightened the law even further. Additionally, the state’s public records law gives police and prosecutors the power to withhold from public disclosure virtually any document related to both open and closed criminal cases.

As it stands, the inner workings of the state’s police and sheriff departments are completely opaque. Take the San Francisco Police Department, which issues what it calls “Veronese Reports,” named after a long-gone police commissioner. The Veronese Reports compile yearly information on officers who have been disciplined. They do not, however, include the names of the officers, any narrative detail about the offenses, or any notes on how many times the officers have been disciplined.

A typical entry: In internal affairs case number 2013–0177, an officer was disciplined for carrying a gun while under the influence of alcohol and showing up for work while under the influence. He or she received a 30-day suspension and was enrolled in a police substance abuse program. And that’s where the information ends. The story is the same when it comes to police shootings: the San Francisco department publishes quarterly reports that are scrubbed of most salient facts, a common practice around the state.

“It’s a black hole,” said the ACLU’s Smith. “The tax-paying public deserves to know what those who are being paid to protect them are doing — right and wrong.”

Editor’s Note: SB1286 was cleared the Senate Public Safety Committee 5-1 in April, but was killed May 27 by the Senate Appropriations Committee chaired by Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens).

Community Lashes Out at Los Angeles Police Commission

June 23, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The Los Angeles City Board of Police Commissioners was in Boyle Heights Tuesday night to hear from local residents about the state of policing in their neighborhood, what they got was an earful on everything crime to police-involved shootings.

The commission may have been away from its regular meeting place at LAPD headquarters in downtown L.A., but many of the people who regularly attend their meetings showed up at Hollenbeck Middle School, at times engaging in the same raucous behavior that has disrupted previous commission meetings.

Dozens of people signed up to speak, with the vast majority furiously telling the commission they believe the LAPD is doing a poor job in their community.

“When is Charlie Beck going to give his resignation?” asked Wayne Spindler, a well-known City Hall gadfly.

“Get the hell out of City Hall, Beck,” he told the police chief who was also at the meeting, drawing cheers from the audience. Many of those at the meeting were associated with the groups Black Lives Matter and White People for Black Lives. Speaker after speaker claimed in frustration that police treat people unequally based on their race, age or socio-economic status.

“You use too much enforcement against our people,” said Herman, who said he is homeless.
Others said police often stop them for no reason at all: “I have no warrants, I’m not on probation,” yet I get stopped, a resident of Compton told commissioners.

Members of the community spoke about the poor work LAPD is doing in the city. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

Members of the community spoke about the poor work LAPD is doing in the city. (EGP photo by Jacqueline Garcia)

The public meeting was disrupted often by loud comments, yelling and clapping, prompting Commission President Matthew M. Johnson to warn that if the insults and disruptive behavior continued he would adjourn the meeting.

During the public session, however, a group of young people from the Ramona Gardens housing project in Boyle Heights wanted to do more than just complain about how they are treated by police, and used their speaking time to share with the commission a program they created aimed at improving interactions between police officers and the young people living in Ramona Gardens.

Amanda Gutierrez, 19, said she and two of her friends, in partnership with the nonprofit Legacy LA, came up with “Through Our Eyes,” a program designed to train new police officers about Ramona Gardens youth before they start patrolling the housing project.

“In the past, we noticed how police would harass some of our friends, but they wouldn’t bring programs to our community,” Gutierrez later told EGP. “So we created a program for them,” she said.

Erik del Rincon also lives in Ramona Gardens and helped create Through Our Eyes. He told the commission they want to hold focus groups where they can talk about issues that affect their communities and how LAPD can help.

“We hope to achieve more communication between youth and police officers,” he said.
According to Gutierrez, they recently met with Hollenbeck Division Capt. Martin Baeza and he informed them the program has to be approved by the commission before he can implement it in the division.

That’s why they were at the meeting Tuesday, to seek the support of the police commission and the city to get Through Our Eyes up and running.

Commission rules do not allow commissioners to respond to items not on the agenda, so it’s unclear if the commission will support their effort.

According to Pico Aliso resident and Hollenbeck Police Advisory Board Member Margarita Amador, police are doing a great job, citing as an example an incident she witnessed about two weeks ago when an innocent 10-year-old girl in Boyle Heights was hit with gunfire intended for a man on a bicycle. Police quickly responded to care for the girl, she said, going beyond the call of duty.

Boyle Heights resident Maria Banda attended the meeting to demand justice for her son, who she told commissioners was shot seven times by two police officers before being sent to jail in 2013.

“Two officers are giving a bad reputation to all the others who are doing a remarkable job,” she said. “Work with us Beck,” she told the police chief.

The families of other young people killed in officer-involved shootings demanded greater transparency from the LAPD. “My son was shot over 10 times in the back,” said Juan Mendez, father of 16-year old Jose Mendez, killed earlier this year by police who said he pointed a sawed-off shot gun at them when they stopped him for driving a stolen car.

“How do you explain [them saying he was] pointing at the police and he gets shot in the back?” Mendez demanded.

Longtime community activist Carlos Montes joined others in calling for the police commission to move its meetings away from LAPD headquarters and to meet at a time more convenient for the community. “Police meetings should be in the evening,” Montes said.

The L.A. Police Commission currently meets Tuesdays at 9:30 a.m.

The meeting was adjourned after someone played a video showing police officers arresting an 81-year-old man speaking during the police commission meeting held earlier that day.

Guarded by police officers, commissioners exited the meeting to the chants of “Fire Chief Beck.”

LAPD Northeast Station Evacuated

June 16, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The LAPD’s Northeast Station was evacuated Friday after a “suspicious item” was found in front of the building.

A bomb squad was sent to the station at 3353 San Fernando Road about 8 a.m., said Los Angeles police Officer Norma Eisenman.

No threats were associated along with the item, which was removed about 9:30 a.m., police said. The item was described as a polystyrene cup, KNX 1070 reported.

LAPD Adds Electric Cars To Fleet

June 9, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

The Los Angeles Police Department has added 100 BMW i3 electrical vehicles to its fleet, Mayor Eric Garcetti and Police Chief Charlie Beck announced Wednesday.

The vehicles, which will be used for administrative tasks, are each being leased for three years at $387 per month, with the maintenance costs covered.

Garcetti said the cars will save the city money on fuel, as well as maintenance costs, which tend to be lower for electric vehicles.

BMW was chosen through a competitive bidding process, he said.

The vehicles can go 85 miles between charging, and take about three and a half hours to charge, BMW North America spokesman David Buchko said. With DC fast chargers, the cars can be 80 percent charged in 20 minutes.

The LAPD also was allotted $1.5 million in the budget to install 104 charging stations.

The BMW i3 vehicles bring the number of fully electric vehicles in the city’s fleet to 199.

Parents Push Education Agenda as Crime Scene Unfolds

June 9, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

A group of Spanish-speaking mothers were waiting outside the Highland Park Ebel Club on Avenue 57 last week to meet with their local school district board member when L.A. police units swarm the location in pursuit of an alleged “armed” gang suspect, yelling at the women to leave the area. They take refuge across the street inside a local coffee shop where they hope to continue their meeting.

A few doors down on Figueroa Street, a man in a white shirt and tie stands outside a new hip, antique-filled bowling venue and restaurant greeting the mostly White guests, he seems oblivious to the chaos unfolding less than a block away. A street vendor sells ice cream to a man waiting at a bus stop while people gather on street corners as police cordon off several blocks, denying them access to their homes and cars left in public parking lots. The only vehicles being allowed through are those with loud sirens; firefighters, an ambulance, police patrols and three K9 units. A helicopter combs the area at a close range.

It could have been a scene right out of a Hollywood movie but instead was real life in Highland Park, a community at the crossroad of change.

Perhaps most striking that day was how the community seemed to take things in stride, for the most part just going about their business in a neighborhood where gentrification is changing the face of what’s normal.

The best example being the group of mothers who, undaunted by the scene taking place outside of the Antigua Café, continued to press forward with their meeting with Los Angeles Unified School Board Member Ref Rodriguez, who initially followed police instructions to leave the area because it wasn’t safe, but at the women’s urging returned to meet with them.

“Padres de Highland Park,” a group of about eight mothers representing the 11 public elementary, middle and high schools in Highland Park, had a long, organized list of items they wanted Rodriguez to address. Charter schools were not represented and all the women taking part are Latina. They primarily spoke in Spanish, and repeatedly emphasized their desire to be partners in their children’s education.

Calling the mothers and children “mi familia” (my family), Rodriguez said he was ready to listen.

“The school never asks our opinion,” complained Daisy Ortiz, whose child attends Garvanza Elementary. “We are giving them our most precious treasure and you just make business out of their education,” she told Rodriguez.

The parents complained about schools that wait to incorporate accelerated or advanced classes until middle or high school.

“Advanced education has to start from elementary school,” said one mother as Rodriguez listen attentively and a member of his staff took copious notes on a laptop computer.

Some of the mothers stressed the importance of inclusion in the education of their children and asked the board member to help make it a school district goal.

“We want a resolution approved that will require the involvement of parents at the beginning of any process, instead of at the end,” Ortiz said.

You [the District] don’t have a vision for our children, she continued. “There are new positions in LAUSD to make money, but not to fix the educational system,” she lamented.

Taking turns speaking, the women asked Rodriguez to work with them on a list of goals they said would help improve Highland Park schools. Specifically, they want schools and the District to:
—Always consider parents and give them full and concrete information;
—Include parents’ opinion when implementing new school programs;
—Listen to [parents’] questions and concerns;
—Give parents workshops on how to conduct meetings and understand District information and;
—To hold quarterly meetings with the board member.

We don’t want to go to our school parent centers for Zumba or knitting classes, said Alma, who did not want to give her last name.

What we really need, she said, are experts who can teach parents how LAUSD meetings work so they can take part.

The best thing schools can do for families is to give them the opportunity to be included in the process, the women said.

They said they volunteer at their schools so their children will have a better future than the man police were searching for right outside their meeting.

“We are not against the District, we want to work with you, but words are not enough,” said Susana Zamorano, an organizer with CARECEN who works with the group.

Public schools need to work harder to keep students instead of pushing them to charter schools, Leticia Aldana told Rodriguez.

“[Students] leave public schools because they don’t feel welcome,” she said.

“Charter schools have more programs,” added another of the mothers.

Rodriguez answered specific questions about school data and other matters, and what he could not answer, he said he would look into and come back with an answer. He concluded the meeting by saying he would take all their comments and suggestions under consideration, and agreed to meet again.

Outside, the neighborhood was returning to normal as streets were reopened to pedestrians and traffic. LAPD Northeast Division Sergeant Christopher Gomez told EGP that police officers had observed a known gang member with a gun walking near Avenue 57 and attempted to stop him, which led to the foot pursuit and the suspect discarding the gun along the way. The suspect eventually surrendered without incident, said Gomez. The gun was not found.

Fatally Stabbed Man Identified

May 12, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Authorities identified a man last week who was fatally stabbed in the Lincoln Heights area.

Officers sent to the 4100 block of Valley Boulevard on a report of a traffic crash about 11:15 a.m. Tuesday discovered a man with a stab wound to his chest inside the vehicle, said Los Angeles police Officer Ricardo Hernandez of the Media Relations Section.

Jose Diaz, 35, of Los Angeles died at a hospital, coroner’s Assistant Chief Ed Winter said. No arrests were reported. Anyone with any information in the case was urged to call detectives at (323) 342-4100, or Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS.

Stolen Trailer Found in Commerce

May 12, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Police searched Tuesday for five men suspected of stealing thousands of Dell laptop computers worth as much as $4 million in an armed robbery at a warehouse in the Harbor Gateway area.

The thefts at a warehouse in the 19200 block of South Western Avenue occurred about 11:30 a.m. Friday, said Officer Mike Lopez, a Los Angeles police spokesman. Five male suspects, four of whom were masked, were involved in the heist, during which a security guard was held at gunpoint, he said.

The guard at the warehouse was zip-tied and the bandits drove two trucks onto the property, hooked up two trailers containing a more than 7,600 laptops and drove off, police said.

One of the trailers was found empty Saturday morning in Commerce, LAPD Capt Gary Walters told ABC7.

Anyone with information on the thefts that could help LAPD Commercial Auto Theft detectives was asked to call (818) 832-7500.

Police Search for Suspect in Lincoln Park Rape

May 10, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

A woman was attacked and raped in a public restroom in a park in Lincoln Heights, and a search has been launched for the man who assaulted her, police said.

The sexual assault took place about noon on Monday in Lincoln Park, south of Mission Road, said Officer Liliana Preciado, an LAPD spokeswoman.

“The victim was an adult female,” Preciado said. “She was taken to a hospital where she was treated for assault and rape.”

The restroom where the attack took place is in a busy area of the park, near a baseball field.

Preciado said the rapist was a Hispanic man between 25 and 30. The case is being investigated by the sexual assault section of Robbery Homicide Division, Preciado said.

Anyone with information on the assault was asked to call LAPD’s Robbery Homicide, Special Assaults section at (213) 486-6910. Tipsters can also call Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-TIPS. All tips can be made anonymously.

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.

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