Homelessness LASD

LASD Moves to Decriminalize Homelessness, an Interview with “Ghettoside” Author Jill Leovy, a Bill to Address Problems in Juvenile Court Schools, and More Commutations


On Tuesday evening, LA County Sheriff Jim McDonnell announced that sheriff’s deputies will be instructed to refrain from arresting homeless people for minor crimes related to homelessness. Instead, the goal for deputies will be to connect homeless people with much-needed services. The department’s decriminalization initiative is expected to go into effect at the beginning of next year, after deputies receive training.

The initiative was discussed during a public forum held with the LA County Fire Department, and the LA Homeless Services Authority. Sheriff McDonnell said he is also “trying to get the funding to provide, across our department, crisis intervention training, so that we have the ability to give the tools necessary to our deputies, to our personnel throughout the organization.”

Decriminalization of the county’s homeless was one of 47 recommendations in a $100 million comprehensive interagency plan to combat homelessness, which was approved by the LA County Board of Supervisors Back in February.

“It’s going to take an active holistic effort from you, our non-profits, our churches, private and public entities to address this challenge,” LA County Fire Chief Daryl Osby said, addressing the audience.

Meanwhile, the county supervisors are still urging lawmakers to call on Governor Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency over the homelessness crisis in California, in order to drum up $500 million in state funds for cities and counties grappling with serious homelessness.

The supes voted back in June to urge Sacramento to declare homelessness a state of emergency. The next day, Gov. Brown announced that he would not make the move. The governor’s press secretary said the issue of addressing homelessness is a task for local governments. Since then, the state Assembly, local officials throughout California, and more than 25,000 petitioners have joined the call for the governor to act.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas urges the state Senate to join the push, and for Brown to take action. “If [Brown] can declare a state of emergency over a fruit fly infestation, doing the same for homelessness should be a no-brainer,” said the supervisor.

Ridley-Thomas also notes that while a governor declaring a state of emergency over homelessness is rare, it has been done before. “Hawaii did it last year and again this year, with a homeless population of 7,000—less than one-tenth of those in California,” Ridley-Thomas said.


Jill Leovy, discusses the complex problem-–spotlighted in her 2015 book, Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America—of both under-policing and over-policing black communities in an interview with Vox’s German Lopez.

In Ghettoside, Leovy writes about the disproportionate number of black men who are murdered in Los Angeles and across the nation—most of them killed by other black men—and the fact that most of those murders go unsolved by law enforcement. Yet people of color are disproportionately targeted by law enforcement and overrepresented in the justice system.

Leovy explained the issue in the context of a school playground: “…bullies beat you up every day on the playground. But the only time the playground supervisor comes around, he or she says, ‘Don’t chew gum on the playground.’ In this way, Leovy says, the playground supervisor is ignoring the much larger issue of the physical harm inflicted on the student. “You would cease to believe in the system,” Leovy said in the interview with Lopez.

Part of the problem, according to Leovy, is that we ask too much of law enforcement officers above their duty to protect the public from violence and other dangers and enforce the law. Police focus their time and resources dealing with mental illness, substance abuse, and classroom discipline, rather than public safety. Here’s a clip from the interview:

In fact, you’d probably cease to believe that it’s just the bullies picking on you, but rather that the system is a bully in and of itself. Pulling back to the criminal justice system, this is how Leovy described the situation in her book: “Like the schoolyard bully, our criminal justice system harasses people on small pretexts but is exposed as a coward before murder. It hauls masses of black men through its machinery but fails to protect them from bodily injury and death. It is at once oppressive and inadequate.”

The result, Leovy argues, is more violence. The fundamental basis of the law has long been to help people settle disputes without violence and through some sort of legal system instead. White communities have lived with this comfort, based on the higher number of crimes solved in those communities, for generations. Black communities — where people are often trapped due to severe residential segregation — have not, and that helps explain why they suffer from high homicide and general violent crime rates.

As Leovy writes, “Take a bunch of teenage boys from the whitest, safest suburb in America and plunk them down in a place where their friends are murdered and they are constantly attacked and threatened. Signal that no one cares, and fail to solve murders. Limit their options for escape. Then see what happens.”

It’s not just homicide. The clearance rate for other violent crimes, such as robbery and assault, are generally even lower: FBI data shows that in the murder clearance rate in 2014 was about 64.5 percent in 2014, but 47.4 percent for violent crime overall — and just 29.6 percent for robbery. And these rates are much lower in minority communities.

“Ghettoside has been accused of being too reductive by hanging so much on the narrow issue of homicide clearances, which is a fair criticism,” Leovy told me. “I’m not arguing that you can hang everything on homicide clearances, or that [more clearances] alone would resolve the disparities in death rates in homicide on racial lines. But I do think it’s a big deal. And homicide is an indicator; it’s actually used by a lot of criminologists as an indicator of crime, where the numbers are thought to be relatively accurate.”

Homicide also shows the vicious cycle involved. Police need witnesses and cooperation from the community to solve crimes, including murders, and therefore build legitimacy that can help prevent future crimes. But if communities feel distrustful as a result of being both overpoliced for low-level crimes and underpoliced for serious crimes, they are going to be less likely to cooperate with cops.

So most murders will go unsolved, and those unsolved murders lead to more distrust. That leads to more murders, which will subsequently go mostly unsolved. And so on.

This is why so much of the work on policing reform, such as President Barack Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, focuses largely on rebuilding trust between the police and minority communities.


A bill to help more justice-system involved California kids graduate high school on time has passed out of the state Senate and Assembly, and now heads to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk for a final signature.

The bill, AB 2306, would exempt kids locked up in county juvenile detention facilities from having to complete locally required coursework (like health and language courses) beyond what the state requires for graduation. Other high-needs student groups—homeless and foster youth—are already exempt from having to complete additional coursework.

The Redding Record Searchlight’s Nathan Solis has more on the bill and the ongoing problems with the juvenile court schools in California. Here’s a clip:

As the system works now, students who transition from the Juvenile Rehabilitation Facility after finishing their sentences to local high schools can fall behind in their classes as they work to meet local graduation requirements such as health or language classes. Hartman said there is not enough time to fit all the necessary course work to meet both state and local requirements while a student is at the facility.

“Simply put there were so many holes in their educational path,” Hartman said.

With the proposed law, juvenile court students who complete their second year of high school would be placed in the same category as foster care and homeless students who are exempt from local requirements.

According to Frazier, the bill would “remove barriers experienced by at-risk students when making the transition” to public high schools.


On Tuesday, President Barack Obama commuted the sentences of another large group of federal inmates—including several in California—serving outdated sentences for cocaine, methamphetamine, marijuana, and other drug-related offenses.

With Tuesday’s 111 commutations, and 214 petitions granted earlier this month, Obama appears to be ramping up his clemency efforts as he nears the end of his second and final term as president. Obama has granted more commutations just in August than any president in an entire year in approximately 100 years. Tuesday’s clemency move brings Obama’s total number of commutations to 673.


  • McDonnell is an idiot! Every Cop knows that the homeless are full aware of the shelters and services. I have news for the sheriff, aka fresh eyes, they don’t want to go! Too many rules like no drugs, no prostitution, no rape or murders.

    Years ago when Prof Wilson wrote about “Broken Windows” emphasis was placed on quality of life crimes. And guess what? Things got better, much better. And now we just ignore everything until we become juast like Chicago or should I say Chi-ra?

  • UNBELIEVABLE! Systems broken. BASIC systems broken! But lets SPEND millions of dollars, and say LOOK AT US (McD)….. look at what I’m doing…. Just F@#$ing STUPID! Why don’t you just higher people with a consciousnesses…. decent at heart persons… Oh, wait…lets fire them… and high people with LESS experience…. so I look good to the public… because it’s NOT about service ( I learned that working for LAPD for close to 30 years – I live in the City so I know how SHITY that service ISN’T)

    When I went to serve the public in patrol 30 years ago…. we were required to have a couple of things in our bags….

    the Case assignment section of the manual… section 4.
    the patrol procedures section, section 5.
    and a resource book with all the non profits and government programs to refer the needy/homeless/mental too.

    It just WASN’T that hard!

    I saw a Long Beach policeman sitting in his car the other day. As I walked past, I said, “Hey, do you want him back? I work for the Sheriff.” Very rapidly, “NO! You can keep him.”

    POS Politician, collecting TAX dollars, with NO STONES to do the HARD work, the RIGHT thing..

    McDonnell is just another broken system, that just ain’t that hard.

    Just hire Tanaka back as a consultant Jim. Your wearing his people as a blanket anyway. Paul can design your patio coin for you.

  • Homeless will just worsen. Ms. Clinton left the gates to country open. I’m not targeting any race, but illegals just walk into our country and take our jobs away. In return, they send thier earnings back to there country. Plus many of em use services that can benefit our homeless population with education or training to skill them to gain employment. President Trump, please build that wall….

  • I don’t disagree with dealing with “the homeless” aka “the mentally ill, winos and crackheads.” But all of the is political theater for Fresh Eyes. He has been an understudy of the Lee Baca School for Political Hacks,” since he took office. No reform, no reform and no reform, unless you want to call public executions for theater of deputies committing parking violations for the sake of saying, “Look what I’ve done!.” I’m just waiting for a media atomic bomb to go off, some huge scandal, something that becomes “above the fold” bad news involving LASD (as if we haven’t had more than our share) just to see how he, not a bun boy, but how he handles it. Fresh Eyes may look a little bloodshot and watery. But until then, minutia and politics, gearing up for the next election.

  • FYI the U.S. (obama) has given Mexico over a billion dollars to build a wall and beef up security in southern mexico to keep criminals out of mexico and people keep complaining about the northern wall.

  • AmericanCitizen:

    Please, we already have enough news on that loathsome, fascist individual on a daily basis. He does not have to be on witnessla too.

  • who is the visual aid recruit…..fine job push those buttons “yes sheriff, no that wasn’t me, yes boss I bought the new buttons, fine idea. Yes boss the power point is working great. I think I’m ready for my next rank.

  • What a joke mcdumbnuts is. Why doesn’t Celeste investigate mcdumbnuts progress. Show us his system works. Ask the deputies how morale is. All of his circle jerks will tell you “we will work short” to make things work. How short is their staff. It’s a little frustrating but they work for money and power. It’s time to exploit them. They are not perfect. It’s about to show. Even mcdumbnuts. He has his weakness.

  • I am still in disbelief at the amount of commanders and above. 30 years ago there were maybe 2 chiefs, 3 commanders now we have 35+ commanders and staff. Each commander and staff probably cost the county 1 million in payroll and perks. You want to cut some fat from this department start cutting the executive levels. I know this would be a fairy tail come true if that happened, since everyone above scratches each others back to keep their positions. Just food for thought.

  • FYI: In 1986, 30 years ago, there were 8 Division Chiefs and 23 Commanders who did not have staff. Each Division Headquarters had staff, considered the chief’s staff, which included the Commanders assigned to the Division. This was before the Marshal mergers well as all the transportation,county guard, parks and community college mergers among others.

  • Transportation was always within LASD. Before the Los Angeles County Marshal merger, Deputy Sheriffs worked ALL County Court Lockups and provided transportion (to and from court) as well as 95% of all transportation for all inmates, ranging from medical appointments, funerals, to State Prisons. LASD Special Enforcement Bureau took OJ Simpson home immediately after his verdict for obvious reasons.

  • You are correct #13. The transportation merger I was referring to was the MTA and subways once patrolled by LAPD.

  • Had a little time between meetings. A modest California-Nevada collaborative proposal might resolve some of our (LA’s) homeless issue by incentivizing a year-round or periodic homeless relocation to Burning Man events, at Black Rock Nevada. Several social and economic incentives might be developed in Operation ‘Desert Paradise’ where many homeless spend at least some of their nomadic, roofless year in the Nevada desert so that the sidewalks, streets, alleys, parking lots, and entrance-ways of downtown Los Angeles might be thoroughly cleaned from the health hazards of open, often un-regulated defecation and urination, litter, and illicit needles from drug use. (This option could scale, and tip the scales for an LA Olympics in 2024.) With the economic one-percent having moved noisily into Burning Man, enjoying unspeakable sensuality (reminds one of certain cop parties of the 1970s), it is unlikely that the well-off will be offended by a homeless tax covering the transportation and low cost room and board, and nominal medical care of their economic inferiors. Extending a kindness of this nature for their fellow man, woman, transsexual, bi, queer, and Arlo Guthrie clan, et cetera, would ensure less direct unpopularity for the one-percenters at Burning Man (many whom are left-leaning limousine socialist anyway). The little social justice warriors will screech and snort at the possible exploitations as they try to recall their Marx, but they are often so incoherent that it won’t matter.

    Two for the price of one: Furthermore, the Supes and Ol’ Jim and his band of fresh-eyed merrymen appear to have a manpower solution in front of them. To carry off the collaborative effort with our Nevada neighbors in a safe and efficient way, we’ll just trim bureaucracy by rounding up all of the loose brass of LASD, which means what, maybe 50-60 worthless parasitical pricks and shits and cheaters, and reassign them to bus duty under the auspices of TST (they can even wear the new black jackets). These administrative parasites will work directly with LA’s Homeless Services Authority. Having spent a little time with Masai in East Africa, am aware of what a nomadic, mostly homeless people need to travel great distances on foot. Put short: very little. Yet most of LA’s homeless are not up to demands of the jaunt, at least not initially. They’re not yet nomadic. Under a five year plan TST can take our volunteer homeless fellows the whole distance, then shortening the trip 15 miles a year in order to build up physical endurance for the annual trek. The homeless will gain better (measurable) health outcomes for having walked these increasing distances, Jim and the Supes can put their heads on a lumpy pillow at night knowing they’ve assisted hundreds, maybe thousands of people by giving them the chance to travel on the taxpayer dime (LA already spends tens of millions on the homeless). These won’t be forced marches – each according to his ability, will be the drop off motto. And Los Angeles workers – high salaried through low waged – might get a brief reprieve from the rank smell, and blinkered political correctness enforced by an LA brain trust which seeks for political purposes to empower visible homelessness as a proxy for their commitment to high religious secularism: the more publicly visible homelessness equals the more virtuous the City leaders are because they are confronting their own – and making us confront our own – false consciousness. What they borrow from the Jesuits is stripped of any Christian principle, virtue, message, and responsibility. This way City leaders get all of the benefits of being (secularly) religious without any of the costs. A reprieve from Los Angeles’ secular ‘High Sparrows’ would be too good to be true, but Operation ‘Desert Paradise’ is one way to go. It could empower many hundreds of citizens presently labeled homeless. Sure, the Masai kept their dignity during the forced villagization of the Tanzanian population by extreme socialists. I suspect that LA’s leaders, extreme socialists among them, want to keep LA’s homelessness kneecapped, so to speak; they may not want the pride and independence of the kind possessed by the nomadic Masai to infect a dependent population.

  • Brizz. Your late 1960’s to early 70’s way of thinking is so Brylcreem. LASD TST to hustle the homeless to the Desert is too similar to a Leo Tolstoy story. You are what is known as “Extra”. Give it a rest buddy and step aside.

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