by Jean Dale Glass
The combined S-T/ nearby evening Neighborhood Watch meeting hosted LAPD’s Mental Evaluation Unit (MEU) at N/W’s Tuesday, July 18, meeting. Thirty vocal residents attended at North Valley City Hall. Officer Jurisaga of LAPD’s MEU/SMART (System-wide Mental Assessment Response Team) laid out the legal and practical framework of dealing with mental illness among vagrants. FOUNDATION FOR A DRUG-FREE WORLD (DFW) began the evening in a related topic by delivering a short program and packets of anti-drug booklets. (Presentation summarized below.)
FOUNDATION FOR A DRUG-FREE WORLD (DFW) gave a presentation. Sunland volunteers from this worldwide anti-drug effort are distributing antidrug booklets in our community.
LAPD MEU/SMART OFFICER JURISAGA was knowledgeable and frank about the limited solutions available for the mentally ill on our streets, and about the legal, humane and administrative barriers to helping or removing them.
Police can only arrest people for crimes witnessed or clearly videoed. Clinicians or trained officers can only detain suspected mental cases per California WIC code 5150. That code “…authorizes a qualified officer or clinician to involuntarily confine a person suspected to have a mental disorder that makes them a danger to themselves, a danger to others, and/or gravely disabled” (Wikipedia). Howling at the moon and leading an imaginary band through Sunland Park isn’t enough.
Note that clinicians can only apply for the 5150. A medical doctor must sign off before the 72-hour confinement can occur. Even though 5150s in our community are up 100% over last year, the system is a revolving door. The program’s short-term meds are often insufficient and may cause harmful side effects.
Additionally, criminals and crazies may adjust their behavior when police or clinicians are present. One officer spent more than an hour with a notoriously belligerent vagrant, during which time the suspect was calm and careful to not display or admit any trait that would allow criminal or mental confinement.
THE GREATEST AUDIENCE UPSETS ALLEGED LAPD isn’t doing all that residents expect: Repeated phone calls not resolving the problem, waiting 40 minutes for LAPD to answer phone; officers discouraging residents from filing reports; very slow arrival to non-911 events.
If an officer seems uninterested or won’t create a report for a meaningful crime, first assess if it’s serious enough. To keep our officers on the street, drive to Foothill Div and file your report there. Or get the officer’s business card and talk to a supervisor. In most property crime, only victim(s) — not neighbors or witnesses — can file the police report.
ADDITIONAL MEETING NOTES:
– MyLocalCrime.com offers free crime report lookup for last 30 days
– Mental illness, or claiming it, will not prevent arrest for a felony
– Police response to mental illness calls is slow; too few trained officers
– Parks are spotty and unpredictable. Some residents report no issues; others won’t go back.
– LAPD’s mobile app keeps gaining capability. There’s also a Foothill Div. app.
– There ARE occasional successes in sheltering homeless. !YaY!
– When traffic officers work our area, they often log 18 citations/shift
– On narcotics matters, contact Det. Travis Coyle, (818) 834-3136 or firstname.lastname@example.org. org.