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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

Venetians Like First Police Town Hall Initiated by Chief Moore

The room was not as filled as it was for the MTA Town Hall but Captain James Roberts of LAPD Pacific Division said that was good … “not as many people are angry.”    The auditorium was lined with policemen. The panel was seated in front, one side featured most of the Senior Lead Officers with traffic enforcement officers and the other side had police with a table for email addresses and suggestions.  Photo was taken near the end of program when many had left.

… and they listened.

The first Venice Police Town Hall was held Thursday evening with approximately 30 officers involved with the Venice operations. The officer and person responsible for the Town Hall was Chief of Police Michel Moore.

Venetians were pleasantly surprised and impressed. One of the main gripes Venetians have is that no one listens to them. They claim they have legitimate gripes, they do their homework, they are properly prepared, and yet, the powers that be act autonomously.

The evening seemed to evolve into one of wanting to help each other — community and police working together to make the Venice-peculiar situations solvable.

Moore  has a track record with Venetians. Moore at the October Venice Town Hall said he would clean the beach — enforce the curfew, Within two days citations were given out to violators of the curfew. Beach went from 81 tents to 0 in October.

He asked Venetians at the Venice Town Hall if they would like a Police Town Hall. There was a  stunning silence for a short time. Venetians are not used to being treated as viable citizens.  A little over a month later and there is a Police town Hall.

The Town Hall started out with the Chief  introducing Brian Morrison as the new Captain, replacing Captain James Roberts, and talking about the organization, the policing policy.

It then shifted to Captain James Setzer talking about crime in areas A11 and A13, headed by SLO Jennifer Muther and Kristan Delatori, the Ocean Front Walk area and the Oakwood areas, respectively. Setzer explained that crime was down. One person shouted out that crimes were not reported. It was explained that this person would have a turn. It was reported there were no murders to report and one person said a person was murdered in front of her store. It appeared that there was a large percentage of crime committed by the homeless against the homeless. One officer said “homeless seem to prey on homeless.”

Then the Town Hall was opened to questions. Many questions were dialogues instead of questions but for the questions, the police took notes, addressed individual concerns, or talked with individuals afterward, and in some cases, promised to investigate their concerns. Many times the applicable officer would answer the questions.

Mark Ryavec was very complimentary regarding outgoing Captain James Roberts.

The Chief gave out an email address for all Venetians and promised that emails would be answered and comments properly addressed. There was a sense of both community and police working together to clean up their community. The email is VeniceCommunity@LAPD.online. The following are some of the questions, some of the comments.

Paul Bascal, film maker and activist, explained that departments need to work together to accomplish accomplish certain tasks.

Bascal got his answer from two officers — Captain  Roberts and Officer Michael Soliman, head of the Venice Substation at the beach, and that is the way the evening worked … Questions with answers or comments, or follow-up promises. This answer explained the complexity the police are confronted with when dealing with different departments at the beach.

One person asked why not give Venice more police. Chief Moore said he had just given Venice 10 additional police but had to take them from another area. The Chief stated that there were 600 fewer police than there were before (writer did not catch year). He said an allocation accounting study was going to be completed within six months and perhaps that would allow for more. Chief said the study was initiated by Councilman Mike Bonin.

Another complained about the scooters on the sidewalks. One person complained about the needles that children and dogs could access. An officer said they were working on that and explained that they caught a drug dealer in one group.

Chief of Police Michel Moore discussing government intervention with Ted Hayes, who feels this is the way to go.

One asked about crimes under $700 or 900. An officer explained that citizens had passed Law V40 that allowed judges to move felonies to misdemeanors. He said it used to be that people facing a felony and on drugs had a choice of  mandatory recovery programs or jail in most cases. Now most felonies have been reduced to  misdemeanors and jail is a day or so, if anything.

One person wanted to discuss “No Trespassing” sign 4124. Assistant City Attorney Claudia Martin explained that if you have a closed, locked backyard, the police will not enter unless you give approval. Approval is given if you are absent by displaying 4142. “Sign shops are familiar with this trespassing approval,” Martin said.  Without a gated yard, there is no access problem.

A man claimed that he saw people breaking into cars and painting cars and fences. He called 911 and 911 operator told him to call the non-emergency number. One officer who used to work in 911 department explained that they get 5 to 700,000 calls per day and most are crimes in progress and life threatening ones.  This was wrong and it was unfortunate.

One said he had witnessed dog owners getting cited for a dog on the beach, people given tickets for not having a license on their car and more, yet the homeless get away with so many violations. He just didn’t understand.

One person made the statement that the way the police are handling things enables the homeless and this becomes an invitation for other homeless to come to Venice. People said “Venice has reached a limit.”

One man, who had been in Venice for little over a year and use to live in Texas where apparently one can carry a gun, asked how he could feel safe walking on the beach when the homeless carry weapons. The officer who addressed the question explained that he should and all should try to “avoid confrontations … rely on the police.”

Jim Murez, activist who runs the Friday Farmer’s Market, said the chemicals used to clean the sidewalks after an encampment removal, have killed the trees.

Everyone was concerned about the bicycle chop shops homeless set up in plane site. Officers said register your bikes. “When we find a bike, we check the registration,” one officer said. Register the bike. We are also confiscating some of the bikes in encampments.

Captain Roberts said they are going to put GPS on some bikes and follow them to catch bike stealers.

“Our plan is to listen and take action,” said Captain Roberts.

Many Venetians, who were critical, now see an opportunity to sit down and explain their dilemmas with hope that someone is listening with an ear for change. This was accomplished at the Town Hall.


Ryavec Asks Moore to Retain Roberts as Head of Pacific Division

On the day of the first Police Town Hall in Venice, Mark Ryavec, president of the Venice Stakeholders Association, writes an open letter to Chief of Police Michel Moore and asks that Captain James Roberts remain at his post as Captain of the Los Angeles Police Department, Pacific Division.

Venice Update also strongly endorses the retention of Captain James Roberts in his position at the LAPD, Pacific Division.

Dear Chief Moore,

I am writing on behalf of many Venice residents to ask that you retain Patrol Commander James Roberts in Pacific Division.

I have lived in Venice for over 30 years and been president of Venice Stakeholders Association for ten years.

In all of my time working on public safety issues in Venice and Pacific Division I have never seen as dedicated, responsive, creative, effective and respectful a commander as Captain Roberts.

He has worked tirelessly, and collaboratively, with residents and his Pacific Division team to address the unique public safety issues of our community.

With only a year and a half on duty here, he has come up to speed quickly on the underlying circumstances we face: one of the largest visitor-serving destinations in the U.S. intersecting a highly problematic and service-resistant transient population, along with an open, illicit drug market and bicycle theft operations, combined with recent court decisions which severely limit the LAPD’s enforcement options.

Despite these challenges, he and his officers, along with Commander James Setzer, have made more progress in addressing crime and restoring safety for the public at Venice Beach and in the community, in a short period, than any other commander has accomplished since Jon Peters.

Captain Roberts is now starting to implement several new initiatives, including returning to pairing social service workers with LAPD officers in a combined outreach to the large homeless population. He should be given the opportunity to follow-through on this and other plans to address our chronic crime, homelessness and safety issues.

Please do not squander all the relationships and learning the good captain has acquired in his tenure here.

Keep Captain Roberts on the job in Venice!

Awesome … Just Awesome! Venice Salutes Chief Moore, LAPD

Chief of Police Michel Moore said he would start policing the beach again when he was at the Venice Town Hall last Wednesday night.

Friday night between 5:15 and 5:30, nine to ten LAPD beach cruisers entered the Boardwalk from Windward with lights flashing and slowly and quietly parted the crowd as they proceeded to Navy St.

This was their way of stating “We are back!” Beach cruisers have not been allowed on the sand since last year when a man was run over but not injured. It just made Chief Beck and then Chief Moore extra cautious. As a consequence the beach has been the choice for the homeless.

At Navy all the cruisers entered the sand in tandem, drove south toward Windward, and then peeled off to warn people with belongings and tents on the sand that as of midnight tonight (19 October) they would be cited. Many started to move on. Any belongings left unattended would be removed.

The beach for legal reasons is a City park from the east side of the Boardwalk to the ocean, from Santa Monica border to the Marina del Rey jetty.

This is the official letter from Captain James Roberts, Commanding Officer, LAPD Pacific Patrol Division.

Venice Community & stakeholders,
The Chief of Police has voiced his support and direction for the Pacific Area Command to increase beach patrols, and redouble our efforts to enforce beach and boardwalk quality of life ordinances; effective immediately.  Chief Moore and the West bureau command staff have absolutely heard your concerns, and responded emphatically. 
If you are on the Boardwalk or beach this afternoon, you will see an increase in officers on the sand proactively educating the public, and conducting enforcement activity as appropriate.  And as always, the officers will simultaneously be offering outreach and support resources to those in need.  We invite all local service providers to connect with Pacific Area or come out to the beach, so officers have a direct referral source if someone asks for help during our outreach. This activity will continue around the clock,  until further.