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Police Group's Letter Criticizes Homeless Study

February 23, 1992

SANTA MONICA — The Santa Monica Police Officers Assn. has issued a belated critique of a citizens task force report on managing the homeless population, saying it fell "woefully short" of dealing with the complex problem.

The board of directors of the group sent a letter to Santa Monica Mayor Ken Genser earlier this month complaining that the law enforcement perspective had not been taken into account by the panel, which delivered its report to the City Council in December. The report has been approved in concept by the council.

According to the police officers' group, task force recommendations for more homeless programs and shelters exacerbate the problem by drawing homeless people to the community.

"The continued proliferation of unproven and costly programs will do nothing more than attract more homeless, which is a reckless endangerment of our community and an imprudent expenditure at any time, but especially during these current economic times," the letter said.

As an alternative, the group wants to play an active role in screening homeless people before they are admitted to shelters or other programs to find out if they are criminals who pose a threat to others.

"Any person participating in any city-funded program should lose their right to receive assistance if that individual shows a lack of respect for the laws," the letter said.

Though the task force recommended programs tied to social services, at which homeless people would be asked to identify themselves, a warrant-checking approach was rejected by them, the City Council and the city attorney as a violation of constitutional rights.

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