9/24/2005

Four Suburbs Said to Have 'Dumped' Homeless in L.A. - Los Angeles Times

Officers from the Los Angeles Police Department said they have observed police cars from at least four suburban departments drop off what appeared to be homeless people on the streets of downtown Los Angeles in the last year, their captain said Friday.

The claim comes a day after Capt. Andrew Smith, who commands the downtown division, said he and a partner saw two sheriff's deputies drop off a mentally ill man in skid row after he was released from the Central Jail.

Officials from three of the departments — El Monte, El Segundo and Pasadena — all said they had no knowledge of their officers driving people to downtown as a way of getting them out of their communities. Though acknowledging that "dumping" was a common practice years ago, the officials now say their departments have strict bans on the practice.

Moreover, they offered to investigate if the LAPD provided dates and times. Officials from the fourth agency, the Burbank Police Department, declined repeated requests for comment.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department continued to strongly defend the actions of its deputies, saying they were simply trying to help the man, Byron Harris, receive social services after he was released from jail.

Still, the Sheriff's Department's Office of Independent Review said it would begin an investigation. "The department has an obligation to find out what happened here," said Michael Gennaco, head of the review office.

Downtown officials and police have long suspected that other departments were dumping the homeless, mentally ill people and criminals in downtown, but have found little solid proof. Earlier this year, the LAPD ordered officers to begin stopping out-of-area police cars they saw dropping off people in downtown.

Harris had been released from jail and had been loitering around the building for more than 12 hours when the deputies, under orders from a supervisor, took the man, handcuffed him, and drove him to skid row.

Four Suburbs Said to Have 'Dumped' Homeless in L.A. - Los Angeles Times

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