LA CAN Submits Community Input to LAPD Central Division
In response to the recent LAPD crime survey, which LA CAN members found both biased and convoluted, members submit a written response as well as produce thousands of signatures opposing Safer Cities
As discussed numerous times on this blog, in September 2006, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Chief Bratton launched the Safer Cities Initiative (SCI), which placed more than 100 additional police officers in the 0.85 square mile area known as Skid Row. These additional officers are responsible for the escalating number of citations and arrests made in the community. In the first two years of SCI, over 19,000 arrests were made and 24,000 citations were given to poor, disabled and predominantly African-American residents in a community of about 13,000-15,000 residents.
To add insult to injury under SCI, on May 12th the LAPD launched a survey campaign focusing on crime levels and police presence in Skid Row as a means to create support for SCI in an environment of shrinking resources. Though the results of the survey have yet to be released, the tone, language and survey content appear to be biased. For example, the LAPD survey includes chronic homeless encampments as a potential criminal justice issue – although homelessness is an inevitable consequence of a lack of the affordable housing and emergency shelter and is not illegal.
The LAPD survey also includes questions addressing “quality of life” issues. “Quality of life” policing refers to the increased enforcement of minor offenses such as jaywalking, littering and loitering and is responsible for the high number of citations given to community residents. These questions raise the issue of whose quality of life is LAPD and the City trying to improve? We have witnessed for years the prioritization of the quality of life for the newer, more affluent residents over the quality of life for the low-income residents that receive tickets with excessive fines and needless warrants.
LA CAN members decided not to participate in the survey for these and other reasons. Instead, we have collected more than a thousand signatures from residents and workers in Skid Row who oppose Safer Cities and we submitted a letter of opposition to LAPD officials about the biased survey on June 30, 2009 (document included at the bottom of this post). Although this may appear to be one small issue within the Safer Cities assault on our community and our numerous organizing strategies to end this racist Initiative, we believe surveys such as this continue to highlight the efforts to find support for the failing and illegal practices of LAPD’s Central Division.