Remember this editorial in the L.A. Times about the Venice Beach BID? I posted on it a couple weeks ago because whoever wrote it1 took City Attorney spokesman Rob Wilcox at his unsupported and unsupportable word that BID security somehow wasn’t allowed to arrest people for sitting on the sidewalk in violation of the despicable LAMC 41.18(d). Well, anyway, evidently “Two-gun” Kerry Morrison of the Hollywood Property Owners Alliance read an editorial with the same title but, perhaps because her copy of the paper comes from Bizarro World, radically different content. The one I read said, quite sensibly:
We’re glad that property owners around Venice Beach care about their community and that they’re willing to pay extra to improve the neighborhood. But when it comes to the homeless, they must decide whether they want to be part of the solution or part of the problem. If the ambassadors are going to constitute a de facto private security force, their job should not be to hassle the homeless in an effort to move them pointlessly from corner to corner or to push them out of the neighborhood so that they become another jurisdiction’s problem.
So watch and listen here to HPOA Executive Director Ms. Kerry Morrison’s cri de coeur about how UNFAIR this is to her and her heavily armed BID Patrol buddies!! Or if you prefer, as always, there’s a transcription after the break. And she said:
In an editorial in this morning’s Times about the Venice Beach BID it is stated:
Even during the day, when the municipal code against sitting, lying or sleeping on a sidewalk or street is enforceable, the BID ambassadors would be required to call the police or city employees to enforce it, according to the city attorney’s office.
Of course, in the ordinary meaning of the word “enforce” this is demonstrably not true. In Hollywood, the BID Patrol, operated by Andrews International Security on behalf of the Hollywood Property Owners Alliance which manages two local BIDs, arrests people for violating the despicable LAMC 41.18(d) on an exceedingly regular basis. They handcuff them and either forcibly transport them in a private vehicle to the police station or else wait on-scene for LAPD to arrive to complete the arrest process.
This might charitably be interpreted as waiting for the police to enforce the law in the sense that the LAPD has to issue citations. But the difference to the arrested person, who is handcuffed, forced into a private car or made to sit or lie shackled on the sidewalk until the cops show up to cite them out, is nonexistent. If that’s what Mike Feuer’s office meant by what they apparently said to the Times Editorial Board then shame on them for being so disingenuous. If they meant something else, it wasn’t true. And shame too on the Editorial Board for not investigating that easily refuted claim.
UPDATE: I just received this email, sent yesterday by Rob Wilcox at the City Attorney’s office to Carla Hall at the L.A. Times, stating explicitly that:
Only peace officers or authorized city employees could enforce that section of the ordinance [LAMC 41.18(d)]. BID employees would not be able to enforce.
He doesn’t give a reason, but his statement is demonstrably untrue. I wonder what he meant by it? State law requires police to accept custody of anyone who’s arrested by a private person, and allows private persons to make arrests for any violation of the criminal law.
After the break you will find links to actual BID Patrol arrest reports from 2015 for violations of LAMC 41.18(d).1 Also, here is a horrific video showing what one of these BID Patrol arrests looks like in reality rather than in the delusional fantasy world evidently inhabited by the City Attorney and the LA Times Editorial Board. Here’s a representative sample from one of the reports:
A short time later, we observed MARLOW place his belongings on the ground then lay on the sidewalk. We made contact with MARLOW and informed him he was in violation of 41.18 (d) LAMC- Sitting on public sidewalk. MARLOW refused to comply with our request to stand up and became verbally confrontational with BID officers. MARLOW proceeded to stand up and walk in and out of traffic on Hollywood Blvd. MARLOW also walked away and returned 3 times and was verbally confrontational towards BID Officers. We waited for additional units and FB2 and ED-30 arrived on scene. MARLOW was pulled to the ground by BID Officers in order to safely handcuff him.
And here’s another one:
We then contacted the subjects (one later identified S/ Mull) that were physically blocking the sidewalk with his property and bicycle sidewalk, a violation of 41.18 (d) LAMC- (Blocking, Sitting, Sleeping on the Sidewalk). The subjects admitted that they were not supposed to block the sidewalk per prior BID officers warnings from the past.
We advised S/ Mull that we were placing him under “Private Person’s Arrest”, per 837 Penal Code – (Private Person’s Arrest – Authority To Arrest / see attached form) for 41.18 (d) Los Angeles Municipal Code – (Sitting/lying/sleeping on sidewalk). Mull was immediately handcuffed (adjusted / doubled locked) for his safety and comfort, as per policy.
We then escorted Mull to our patrol vehicle and was seated on the rear passengers side. He was seat belted (adjusted / secured) for his safety and comfort, as per policy.
We then transported him to the Hollywood and Highland substation, per 847 PC. When then met with LAPD Officers Lawrence and Gonzalez (6FB1) for a citation release.
This would be unbelievable if the whole thing weren’t captured on video. On November 23, 2015, at least four BID Patrol security guards (Mike Coogle, along with Wissman, Tizano, and Cox) confronted a man who was sitting on the sidewalk in front of the Metro Red Line station at Hollywood and Vine. They talked to him for almost four minutes, during which time he didn’t answer their questions and mostly ignored them. At 3:55 in the video one officer says to another “you want him?” The other says yes, so they grab him and push him over.
Soon all four of them are piled on top of him and trying to put handcuffs on him. Coogle claimed that the man kicked him during this episode, and ultimately they didn’t even arrest him for violating LAMC 41.18(d). Instead they arrested him for battery for kicking Coogle. When LAPD officers Adams (#34837) and Galicia (#41404) showed up and accepted the man into custody with the approval of their supervisor, LAPD Sgt. Chuck Slater. You can read the full story in the arrest report, although it doesn’t answer the main question I have about this incident: How did the LAPD decide to arrest Jones for battery rather than the BID Patrol officers?
There is all kinds of interesting stuff in the BID Patrol daily log files, and some of it is too weird to even describe. This little story is from April 24, 2015, written by BID Patrol officers Mike Coogle and his frequent partner Mike Ayala:
OUTREACH- 1500 BLOCK OF GORDON AVENUE- E/ SIDE OF STREET
YESTERDAY WE RECEIVED A CALL FROM KERRY’S OFFICE REGARDING A VEHICLE SHE OBSERVED. THE VEHICLE, A GREY BUICK LIC#XXXXXXX, WAS UNOCCUPIED BUT CONTAINED A CHILD SEAT, FORMULA AND OTHER ITEMS POSSIBLY INDICATING THE OWNER OF THE VEHICLE IS HOMELESS WITH A CHILD. YESTERDAY WE LEFT A PATH CARD AND FLIER WITH LOCAL, FAMILY FRIENDLY HOMELESS SERVICES ON THE WINDSHIELD. THIS MORNING, THE CARD AND PAPER WERE GONE. THE VEHICLE WAS UNOCCUPIED AND SOME ITEMS APPEARED TO BE IN DIFFERENT SPOTS.
You may have seen the news elsewhere that Kerry Morrison was granted a Stanton Fellowship by the Los-Angeles-based Durfee Foundation. I’ve refrained from writing about it here because it struck me as more of a private matter. However, in February Kerry Morrison sent an email to Dan Halden of CD13 with her application attached. This put it on the public record and made comments on it of public interest, and it turns out to shed a great deal of light on otherwise mysterious goings-on at the BID Patrol.
So here is a copy of Kerry Morrison’s Stanton Fellowship application. This is an exceedingly rich document, and you’re reading the first of what I expect to be many, many posts about it. It’s well worth the time it’ll take you to read the whole thing, though, because it’s even weirder than you’re thinking it might be.
Anyway, in her application, as part of her plan to fix what she sees as flaws in the mental health care system vis-a-vis homelessness, she plans to:
Tell the story. I have been collecting photos, videos, notes from interviews and observations now dating back to 2008. With the permission of my three friends, and possibly other [sic], I see the potential to create a documentary that will weave the human story around the policy, systems and community cultural change necessary to embrace the needs of these individuals. Create a documentary to tell their story and show the before and after.
This is bad enough, that Garcetti solicits the intimate opinions of these delusional BIDdies, who not only just make stuff up about the homeless but whose ultimate homeless policy is terrorism. It’s bad enough, as we said, but the reasons are even worse:
Mayor Garcetti is very committed to working with CCA and the other BIDS to develop homelessness policies and practices that address homelessness without unintentional harm to our business community. In the long run, we need businesses to provide pathways out of poverty through self-sustaining wages and pride in individual ability and skills.
I recently obtained a 2013 list of people most arrested by the BID Patrol beginning in 2007. Since Kerry Morrison has told me1 that neither the HPOA nor Andrews International tracks outcomes of arrests made by the BID Patrol, I asked the City Attorney to run a report on all cases involving these people sent to them for prosecution.2 I subsequently tallied up the arrests and the referrals for the time period by hand3 and it turns out that the vast majority of cases involving BID Patrol arrests are not even referred for prosecution, and among those that are, over half are rejected. The data is incomplete and subject to some interpretation, but it appears that less than 20% of these cases are actually prosecuted.4 In particular, there are 1144 arrests of these 44 people between 2007 and 2013. Of these, no more than 407 (35.6%) were referred for prosecution. Of those cases, 222 were rejected for various reasons and the rest seem to have been prosecuted.
This is an astonishingly low rate if one thinks that the purpose of arresting people is to stop them from breaking the law, and it’s harmful both to the people arrested and to society at large. The incomparable Alexandra Napatoff, writing about misdemeanor convictions (although her argument is as strong regarding the arrests themselves, and even more so if the conviction rate is so very low), puts it like this;
EXTRA PATROL: 6765 SELMA AVE; SELMA PARK. CHECKED LOCATION FOR VIOLATORS OF NEW SIGNS POSTED PROHIBITING ADULTS WITHOUT CHILDREN AT PARK. NOTE 3 (H) MALES IN PARK IN VIOLATION AND ADVISED RE: NEW POSTED SIGNS. SUSPECTS DEPARTED WITHOUT INCIDENT.
Interestingly, this was foreshadowed as early as September, 2007. For instance, we find in the Footbeat 4 log for September 27, 2007 that OFFICERS CONTACTED SEVERAL HOMELESS RE: ISSUES IN THE PARK AND SURROUNDING AREA. WE ADVISED THE SUBJECTS RE: THE POSSIBILITY OF THE PARK BEING FOR CHILDREN ONLY. (END 1830 HOURS).
Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell
200 N Spring St #450
Los Angeles CA 90012
Dear Councilmember O’Farrell,
I am writing to you regarding plans that the Hollywood Property Owners Alliance and the Los Angeles Police Department are making to extend the patrol hours of the Andrews International BID Patrol in the Hollywood Entertainment District until 4 a.m. In particular, I heard at the last HPOA board meeting that you were considering funding all or part of this program from your discretionary money. If this report is accurate, I hope that you will ultimately decide not to fund an expansion of BID Patrol hours in Hollywood. Here are a number of reasons why I think your funding this project would be a bad idea:
1. Regardless of the intention, it looks like a way to evade Police Commission oversight of law enforcement in Hollywood: This expansion of the BID Patrol’s operations is apparently being planned at the request of Hollywood Divison’s Commanding Officer Peter Zarcone. If it’s implemented it will therefore create a City-funded group of quasi-police assembled at the City’s request who are not subject to any kind of civilian oversight or control. I understand that in some technical sense the BID Patrol aren’t police, but this plan makes that seem even more like a distinction without a difference than it already does. Continue reading An Open Letter to Mitch O’Farrell Regarding Plans to Fund Andrews International BID Patrol Operations in Hollywood→