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Chief Responds to Story on Homeless

October 08, 1987

As the chief of police of the City of Long Beach, I felt it necessary to clarify certain points in your article of Sept. 27 entitled "L.B. Police Task Force Aims to Keep Transients, Thieves on the Move--Away From Downtown."

The portion of the article which addressed police officers' interaction with the homeless, which has led some readers to believe that officers may be inappropriately treating this segment of our citizenry, has been misconstrued. The people who are in fact targeted for police interdiction are the perpetrators of criminal acts. Homeless people who are not involved in criminal acts are often the recipients of more care and service from the police than from any other segment of society.

This department is committed to striving toward achieving excellence. Providing help, whether it be physical, mental or of the agency referral type, is one of the foremost ways for us to reach the goal of excellence. Police officer interaction with the homeless is primarily one of concern for the welfare of the indigent person. One means of further ensuring that the indigent person is assisted has been accomplished by having officers provide that person with an informational card which identifies local social service agencies.

The task force approach being used to reduce crime in the downtown area is a direct result of many months of complaints regarding unabated criminal activity. This department is committed to reducing crime by utilizing every legal means possible. As with many other issues for which society has no remedy, the police have been placed in a position which is only remotely related to law enforcement in dealing with the homeless problem. If a homeless person violates the law he will be treated as anyone else. If he is in need of help, officers will provide the appropriate information and oftentimes even transport the individual to a help service site.

LAWRENCE L. BINKLEY

Chief of Police, Long Beach

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