I wanted to address all the recent inquiries related to this specific location at Chandler and 170 freeway since it falls within the boundaries of my basic car area. The police department is well aware of the issues at this location as well as many of the other similar locations throughout the division.
After several weeks of making complaints concerning the personal property stored on the sidewalk, the city posted signs as required that the area would be cleaned up on Thursday March 21. The Bureau of Sanitation is the lead agency responsible for cleanups across the city. As you know if you live, walk or drive by this area, it does not appear that anything was cleaned up and the area continues to get worse.
This is an area that has our attention and officers are here daily doing what we need to, alegally can do and within our departments policy, prior to issuing citations and making arrests. Some of this does involve outreach and warnings for various infractions such as the tents and encampments.
On March 21, officers responded to the posted areas under the freeway along with the Bureau of Sanitation. Unfortunately, it was raining, and the cleanup did not go as planned. While officers and Sanitation were at the scene, some trash or items that were unwanted were removed but only with the consent of the individuals.
During “Rain Protocol” even when areas are posted, the city cannot clear sites previously posted for any scheduled cleanups. The exception to this is if the supervisor for Sanitation observes hazardous material and/or any health and safety violations.
While at scene, three rodents were observed running out from under blankets from one of the many encampments under the bridge. Numerous discarded needles were also observed throughout the overpass area. As a result, these specific issues were cleaned up but not the entire sidewalk area on either side of Chandler Blvd. Here is why no additional action could be completed.
What appears to be a lack of cleanup is a direct result of lawsuits against the City. In this case concerning personal property, it was the Mitchell case against the City of L.A. that prevents police and city workers from confiscating without notice the possessions of homeless residents. Specifically, the US District Court ordered the city to stop seizing items without evidence “that it is abandoned, presents an immediate threat to public health/ safety, is evidence of a crime or is contraband.”
The lack of cleanups does not stop the police from making legal arrests such as people with warrants, narcotic violations or any other open criminal charges that may be observed or reported. We do this on a daily basis at this location. The issue is even when someone is arrested here, there is a good chance that they will return to the area a short time later if not even the same day. Even after an arrest, we are required to only take possession from someone that can fit into a 60-gallon bag and the rest of the items remain at the scene.
We will continue to be at this location and the others as often as time permits us to provide the extra patrol and attention that as needed. We will continue to respond to the many radio calls generated for police response to this location and the many others like this one to decrease criminal behavior and increase the many quality of life issues. We will continue to put in requests for scheduled cleanups and appreciate all the help from our community members.
What can be done to make a difference? My first thought would be to have additional scheduled cleanups by the city more often than every seven weeks on average.
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