Archive for the “Citywide Policing” Category

LAPD Officer Found Dead at Long Beach Home

It was reported by the Los Angeles Police Department this morning that a police officer assigned to LAPD’s Hollywood Division was found dead at his residence in Long Beach. The officer in question was found just before 11PM on the 26th of October. The department said it appears the officer may have died from natural causes. There is no word yet on the name of the officer or the circumstances surrounding his death.

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From the Contra Cosa Times

CANOGA PARK – In an abrupt reversal, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Monday appeared to back a plan to freeze hiring at the Police Academy at least throughout the rest of this year.

Villaraigosa had previously denounced the idea of a freeze at the Los Angeles Police Department, adamant that the size of the force be maintained at 10,000 officers.

But in a news conference Monday at LAPD’s Topanga Station in Canoga Park, Villaraigosa sided with the City Council’s Public Safety Committee, which has recommended not hiring cadets in November and December to help reduce the LAPD’s record $129 million budget deficit.

“I care more about results than process,” Villaraigosa said. “I will support any proposal that maintains the police force at its current level. But I will oppose any measure that puts our police department in jeopardy and goes back on the promise that we made to the people of this city to make public safety the No. 1 priority.”

In endorsing the hiring freeze, the committee has noted that the pace of retirements and resignations at the LAPD has been slower than expected, and the Police Academy already has about 1,000 prospective applicants in its candidate pool.

Speaking ahead of a City Council vote on police hiring that was scheduled for today but could be delayed, the mayor said his administration’s progress in fighting crime could be set back with force reduction.

“This is progress we can’t take for granted,” Villaraigosa
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said, citing the city’s best per-capita crime rates since 1954. “Crime in Los Angeles is at a record low because our police force is at a record high.”

Villaraigosa said he could accept a slower rate of hiring for the Los Angeles Police Department in the face of the city’s projected $400 million budget shortfall.

“What I can’t accept is our going one officer lower” than the current staff of about 10,000 sworn officers, the mayor said.

Villaraigosa won support from neighborhood councils five years ago to impose a trash collection fee to pay for expanding the LAPD. The mayor said Monday he hopes that solving the budget crisis by trimming other services would allow the LAPD expansion to resume eventually.

He said he is “optimistic we can avoid a fight.”

Villaraigosa appeared with Councilman Dennis Zine, council president Eric Garcetti, LAPD brass and community leaders at the Topanga Station, itself a monument to the force’s growth by more than 800 officers citywide in the past four years.

The station’s opening in January is credited for many of the 316 officers added in the San Fernando Valley in the past three years.

Michel Moore, the LAPD’s deputy chief for the San Fernando Valley, said a decrease of 10 percent in violent crime in the Valley means there have been 488 fewer violent crime victims in the past year than in the previous 12 months.

In addition to proposing the cancellation of two months of academy classes, Zine suggests using officers restricted to light duty – because of injuries and other reasons – to perform LAPD civilian jobs unfilled because of budget cuts.

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It’s about making money, say prosecutors

JOHN HOEFFEL
October 11, 2009

Dispensations … a man holds a placard at a clinic at Venice Beach, Los Angeles. Critics say some doctors will prescribe marijuana for people who are not ill. Photo: AFP/Mark Ralston

LOS ANGELES: Californian laws legalising medical marijuana and permitting collectives to cultivate the plant have had some unexpected consequences: one is the challenge local growers are posing to the profits of Mexican drug barons; another is an explosion in the number of marijuana stores, or dispensaries, in Southern California.

Law enforcement is arguing that most are for-profit enterprises that violate the 1996 Compassionate Use Act and the 2003 collective cultivation law.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney, Steve Cooley, has announced he will prosecute medical marijuana dispensaries for over-the-counter sales.

”The vast, vast, vast majority – about 100 per cent – of dispensaries in Los Angeles County and the city are operating illegally; they are dealing marijuana illegally,” he said. ”The time is right to deal with this problem.”

Mr Cooley recently concluded that state law bars sales of medical marijuana, an opinion that could spark a renewed effort by law enforcement across the state to rein in its use.

This comes as polls show a majority of state voters back legalisation of marijuana, and supporters are working to put the issue on the ballot next year.

The district attorney’s office is investigating a dozen dispensaries, following police raids.

”We have our strategy and we think we are on good legal ground,” Mr Cooley said.

Medical marijuana advocates say the prosecutors are misinterpreting the law.

”I’m confident that they are not right,” said Joe Elford, chief counsel for Americans for Safe Access. ”If they are right, it would mean that thousands of seriously ill Californians for whom the Compassionate Use Act was intended to help would not be able to get the medicine that they need.”

In the City of Los Angeles, some estimates put the number of dispensaries as high as 800.

In August, Mr Cooley and the Sheriff, Lee Baca, wrote to all mayors and police chiefs in the county, saying they believed over-the-counter sales were illegal and encouraging cities to adopt permanent bans on dispensaries.

Mark Kleiman, a professor of public policy at the University of California, Los Angeles, was not surprised by the move. ”I think it’s a natural response to the rather flagrant marketing practices of a bunch of the dispensaries. The medical veneer has been wearing thinner and thinner,” he said. ”I’ve always wondered why those things were legal when they didn’t look legal to me.”

Mr Cooley said he believed that under state law collectives must raise their own marijuana and can recoup only their costs. ”That’s absolutely legal.

”We’re going to respect that.” But he said none of them currently do that. Mr Cooley said he would also consider going after doctors who write medical marijuana recommendations for healthy people.

Critics of medical marijuana say some doctors freely prescribe the drug for people who are not ill.

Medical marijuana advocates celebrated a brief thaw in the enforcement climate after the Obama Administration signalled earlier this year that it would not prosecute dispensaries that followed state law. That spurred many entrepreneurs to open dispensaries in Los Angeles.

As stores popped up near schools and parks, neighbourhood activists reacted with outrage, and police took notice.

A Los Angeles City councillor, Dennis Zine, welcomed Mr Cooley’s decision to prosecute dispensaries.

”There are many that are operating illegally, and it’s not a secret,” he said, but added that he believes ”a few” collectives in the city are operating legally.

When Californians voted for Proposition 215 (also known as the Compassionate Use Act) in 1996, they made it legal for patients with a doctor’s recommendation and their caregivers to possess and raise pot for the patient’s medical use.

In 2003, the legislature allowed patients and caregivers ”collectively or co-operatively to cultivate marijuana for medical purposes,” but said they could not do it for profit.

Mr Cooley, after reviewing a state Supreme Court decision last year, concluded that the law protects collectives from prosecution only in the cultivation of marijuana, not sales or distribution.

Medical marijuana advocates note that the state requires dispensaries to collect sales taxes on marijuana, and that guidelines drawn up by the Attorney-General conclude that ”a properly organised and operated collective or co-operative that dispenses medical marijuana through a storefront may be lawful”.

The guidelines, however, do not deal directly with over-the-counter sales.

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Los Angeles (myFOXla.com) – The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the Los Angeles Police Department were both recognized by the National Law Enforcement Challenge for the department’s safety strategy, it was announced Saturday.

The sheriff’s office finished first in its category, and LAPD tied for first with San Francisco Police, the sheriff’s office announced.

“Saving lives, reducing injuries, traffic collisions and property damage through innovative strategies is important work,” said Sheriff Lee Baca. “The dedicated men and woman of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department appreciate the recognition that comes with this award and will continue to work hard to make the streets safer.”

A three-year study of traffic safety effectiveness in the department’s jurisdiction was part of the department’s submission in the competition.

The department placed first among three agencies its size — more than 1,000 deputies — competing for the award. Hillsborough County, FL placed second and San Diego County placed third.

The City of Los Angeles tied for first place with San Francisco for municipalities of its size — more than 1,250 officers.

More than 530 agencies overall competed for awards.

The annual NLEC is sponsored by the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to promote traffic safety and public recognition of exemplary traffic safety programs.

See full story at

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Associated Press

From AP

LOS ANGELES — Police are looking for a woman who left a 3-year-old boy alone at a South Los Angeles bus stop.

The little boy played with a purple stuffed frog, squealed and squirmed in the arms of a police officer during a press conference today.

Captain Robert Green says a witness saw the woman waiting for a bus with the boy sleeping in her lap at about 1 a.m. Friday. When the bus arrived, she got on and left the boy behind.

The witness stayed with the boy for an hour and finally took him to a police station.

Green says the boy was taken to a hospital and was determined to be in good condition.

Green says the woman could be charged with child endangerment.

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Contra Costa Times
By Rick Orlov Staff Writer
Posted: 10/09/2009 07:35:56 PM PDT
Updated: 10/09/2009 11:06:44 PM PDT

While District Attorney Steve Cooley wants to charge ahead with a get-tough campaign against medical marijuana dispensaries, Los Angeles police said they are waiting for a definitive city policy regulating the businesses before stepping up their efforts against rogue operators.

Capt. Kevin McCarthy, commanding officer of the LAPD’s gang and narcotics division, said that without a new city ordinance – which has been in the works for more than a year – officers cannot act against many of the clinics.

“We have been getting complaints from neighborhood councils and others and we log them and try to deal with them on a case-by-case basis,” McCarthy said.

“I think the district attorney made clear where he wants to go,” McCarthy said. “The city attorney and Sheriff Lee Baca are on board with him. The bottom line is we want to make sure people who need it have safe access.

“But we don’t want to see situations develop where there are other problems.”

In a radio interview on KABC-AM (790), Cooley reiterated his plan to close down many of the 800 to 900 medical marijuana shops believed to be operating in the city of Los Angeles.

“We will give them fair notice and, hopefully, they will see the light and voluntarily close down,” Cooley said. “We are going to uphold the laws of California.”

Local law enforcement has faced a dilemma as the City Council debates what to do about controlling the proliferation of marijuana dispensaries.

A moratorium on opening new shops expires in March and officials hope to have a new ordinance in place by then with detailed requirements on the shops and their allowed locations.

“None of us have a problem with the legitimate collectives,” said Councilman Dennis Zine, who has taken the lead on the issue. “The problem is with all these for-profit places that open up all over and who give out marijuana to everyone.”

Cooley and other officials say that in addition to selling to minors and others who do not use the drug for medical purposes, some of the dispensaries sell marijuana laced heavily with insecticides that endanger users even as they help finance Mexican drug cartels.

Councilman Greig Smith, who chairs the Public Safety Committee where the measure is pending, said he hopes to have action within the next two weeks.

Attorney Joe Elford, who has represented clinics, said he believes as long as the clinics follow the guidelines of the state Attorney General’s Office, they should be allowed to operate.

“We support reasonable regulations – such as there are too many in one area or the like – but for the district attorney to come right out and say all sales of marijuana is illegal (conflicts) with state law and what the voters have approved,” Elford said.

While the lack of an ordinance has partially tied the hands of the LAPD, McCarthy said officers have been able to go after brazen operators. For example, they took action against one shop that distributed fliers on the cars of students at a high school.

Councilman Paul Koretz, who wrote the state law implementing medical marijuana use, said he believes Cooley’s approach goes too far.

“All of us want to do something to make sure there are controls,” Koretz said. “I certainly never envisioned Los Angeles having more than 800 clinics. But I think the direction he is going is too far to try to eliminate all medical marijuana.

“It is clear they are out of hand, but the city is trying to deal with it.”

rick.orlov@dailynews.com

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