“Hold Your Beer Up and Smile.” Video Suggests that So-Called “Referral” Arrest is Actually Just a Warning, Demonstrating that 2015 BID Patrol Arrest Rate is Down 70% from 2014; Far More than Previously Thought

The BID Patrol orders a woman on Hollywood Blvd to perform for the camera as a condition of not being arrested.
The BID Patrol orders a woman on Hollywood Blvd to perform for the camera as a condition of not being arrested.
“Hold your beer up. HOLD YOUR BEER UP. And smile, if you want to.” These are the words of an anonymous1 BID Patrol officer caught on video confronting a homeless woman on Hollywood Boulevard about the fact that she’s drinking in public. However, this is more than a particularly lurid demonstration of the BID Patrol’s almost ludicrously unprofessional reign of misrule in Hollywood. It also helps shed some light on a long-standing mystery about just how many people the BID Patrol arrested in 2015.

I’ve reported before that the BID Patrol’s arrest rate in 2015 was over 40% smaller than it was between 2007 and 2014. The new evidence in this video suggests that actually only 313 of these were full custodial arrests (as opposed to 606, as I previously thought), making the actual decrease from 2014 to 2015 more than 70%. Here is the spreadsheet containing the 2015 totals. Note that there are 606 total arrests listed, and that these include 313 “Al Ref” arrests. You can see the arrest total summary spreadsheets from 2007 through 2015 here.

The phrase “Al Ref” almost certainly refers to “alcohol referrals.” These were discussed by Steve Seyler at the March 2015 Joint Security Committee meeting, where he stated:

We are starting to see some early trends. Arrests are down by 56 compared to this time last year. This is largely due to a strategy change in our enforcement of drinking in public. These arrests have accounted for about 60% of our arrest year after year. That number is holding true for this year as well. We still believe that it is important to curtail public drinking as this has a direct effect on assaults and other crimes.

Our new approach involves more warnings and more importantly referrals. We have
made 56 such referrals so far. If the person is agreeable, we give them a warning and
information about local Alcoholic Anonymous meetings and other resources. We will
attempt to gather data to see if this will bring positive results.

This theory is further confirmed by the fact that the arrest report number included in the title of the video file is #15-0517R, where the “R” almost certainly stands for “referral.” Add that to the fact that there seem to be NO arrest reports with an “R” appended to their numbers among the 2015 BID Patrol arrest reports I recently obtained from Kerry Morrison, so that either those numbers don’t refer to custodial arrests or Kerry Morrison was lying when she told me that she’d produced all of them.2

Aside from the information about the meaning of the data, it’s worth watching the video all the way through. The BID Patrol officers give the woman the choice of dumping it out or going to jail. When she hesitates over dumping out the beer, they state explicitly: “Do you want to go to jail or not?” They manifestly do not give her “information about local Alcoholic Anonymous meetings and other resources.” The purpose here remains mysterious, but what’s obvious now is that

  1. “alcohol referral” arrests are not custodial arrests
  2. there is no information about resources being handed out
  3. there is no evident attempt to gather data

Furthermore, in November 2015, when I asked Kerry Morrison for records explaining what these “alcohol referrals” were, she told me that there were no responsive records other than the report I quoted from above. So it’s entirely possible that this whole referral thing is just something that Steve Seyler and friends just made up as a cover for arresting fewer people. More evidence for this all just being made up can be found in the fact that the BID Patrol had arrested this same woman just the day before this video was taken. Normally, I’d think, they’d warn her first and arrest her next, but that’s the opposite of what actually happened. There’s nothing sensible that they can be trying to accomplish here. However, the fact that our scrutiny seems to have saved more than 700 people from meaningless pretextual arrests in 2015 makes it all seem more than worth the time, the feeling, and the money that my colleagues and I put into this project. It’s much more of a concrete effect than I ever expected to have, and it gives us a necessary and sufficient reason to keep this up forever.

  1. And not just anonymous by chance, but anonymous because HPOA Executive Director Kerry Morrison is willing, nay, eager, to lie and to defy the law in defense of the guy’s anonymity.
  2. Or both, certainly. Note that in the past I would have thought the possibility of her lying to be fairly unlikely but given recent developments I’m no longer so sure. However, I don’t really believe she’s ready to lie on the scale that would be implied by having intentionally failed to hand over almost 50% of the arrest reports.

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