Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

L.B. Force Pushes Limits of the Law

October 08, 1987

After reading the article (Southeast / Long Beach sections, Sept. 27) about the new police task force in downtown Long Beach, I am ashamed of this city and its police force.

I understand that patrolling the streets and observing known criminals is necessary. But stopping those who are unconventionally or shabbily dressed, without evidence of a crime being committed or perpetrated, is clearly harassment in terms of Fourth Amendment rights.

Even when so-called "guilty" people are apprehended, the pettiness of the police effort is appalling, as expressed by the officers themselves. Sure, panhandling is a crime. But I would not be very proud of myself, as a law enforcement officer, if I flashed dollar bills in front of a "disheveled looking woman" to tempt her into asking for the outrageous sum of $1.25. Thank heaven they got her, though. She's probably the kingpin of the local underworld.

The city here is itself pushing the limits of the law, at the least being really mean-spirited. Let's not harass innocent people. Let's not waste time and money arresting those who ask for a dollar or wash in fountains. And if we have to intervene when such individuals annoy others (and we do), let's not do it with the arrogance expressed in this article, but with regret and a sense of responsibility.

While some of the people mentioned are criminals, others are obviously old, mentally ill, mentally handicapped, alcoholic or just plain poor. To be any of these things is not against the law. The appearance of such people is a consequence of their conditions, not an indicator of criminality.

MARY STEWART

Long Beach

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|