Los Angeles police on Tuesday defended stepped-up enforcement against the city’s exploding homeless population, saying that despite officials’ anti-criminalization stance and adoption of alternative strategies, arrests and citations are needed to meet the crisis.
“As a last resort, a tool, one tool of many tools, we turn to enforcement,” Cmdr. Dominic H. Choi, the LAPD’s homelessness coordinator, told the Police Commission during a discussion of the department’s year-end homelessness report. “We have to have a balanced approach.”
The report said LAPD officers made 14,500 misdemeanor arrests of homeless people in 2017, a 10% jump from the year before. It attributed the increase in part to crackdowns on “quality of life” violations barring sleeping and storing personal property on sidewalks. Trespassing and nonviolent drug possession arrests also rose, the report said.
About 6,400 homeless people were arrested on felony charges, including robbery, grand theft auto, aggravated assault and burglary, the report said. A Times analysis this year found that homeless arrests had climbed 31% in recent years, largely for minor offenses, including failing to go to court or pay a quality-of-life ticket — the top offense.
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