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One in Three Times The LAPD Used Force In 2018 It Involved A Homeless Person

An LAPD car on Wall Street in Skid Row, Los Angeles. (Matt Tinoco/LAist)
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One third of all use of force incidents recorded by the Los Angeles Police Department last year involved a person experiencing homelessness.

That's according to the department's 2018 quarterly reports on homelessness, the fourth set to be delivered to the Board of Police Commissioners. LAPD officials were scheduled to present the findings to commissioners at Tuesday's board meeting, but department staff said commissioners would hear the report at a later date.

According to the reports, the department recorded at least 2,146 uses of force in 2018; 698 involved a homeless resident.

That represents about 14 percent increase from 2017, when the department tracked 611 use of force incidents involving people experiencing homelessness. In 2016, the department counted 513 such incidents.

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In addition to use of force incidents rising, other information in the reports underscores how often responding to Los Angeles' homelessness crisis falls to the city's police department.

Likewise, crime data emphasizes how people experiencing homelessness are disproportionately victims of violent crime. In 2018, one in seven homicide victims in Los Angeles was homeless.

At the same time, homeless people are cited or arrested for things that the rest of us might not even realize are crimes. In 2018, at least 1,424 people experiencing homelessness were cited for sitting on the sidewalk in the City of Los Angeles; at least 468 people were cited for having more than 60-gallons of personal property; at least 415 people cited for possessing a shopping cart.

"[City Hall] continues to say that we don't criminalize houseless people, but all empirical data points to something very different," said Pete White, founder of the Los Angeles Community Action Network, to LAist before Tuesday's Police Commission meeting. "It is very clear that homeless arrests continue. The political rhetoric does not match the realities on the ground."

The reports also detail the resources dedicated to street clean ups allowed under the law. Los Angeles budgeted more than $30 million this fiscal year for supporting a small army of police, sanitation, and homeless outreach workers dispatched daily to roust homeless encampments and clean the spots where they were.

According to the reports, L.A. "processed" more than 9,000 tents in 2018. In the same period, sanitation teams disposed of more than 3,600 tons of garbage from cleanups, and 60,437 pounds of human waste.



4:10 p.m.: This article was updated with a statement from the Los Angeles Community Action Network, and to reflect that the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners opted to delay discussion of the most recent quarterly LAPD homelessness report to a future date.

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This article was originally published at 9:10 a.m.

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