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Sweeping Skid Row Will Not Keep It Clean

November 27, 2002

Re "130 Arrested in Sweep of Skid Row," Nov. 21: Does the Los Angeles Police Department really think these tactics are going to work? As a recovering heroin addict who has experienced living in a "low-income" downtown hotel, I can tell you, the answer is no. A night, or 30 days, spent in jail will be of absolutely no help to any of these people. What will? Outreach programs, drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs targeted at groups such as parole violators and those who have been homeless for long periods and methadone programs offering counseling and support groups as well as detox and maintenance programs.

It is one of these programs that has helped me to get and stay clean. As for those whom the LAPD has incarcerated, I can tell you that the homeless will be back on the streets in no time, as will the drug users and dealers, without any kind of treatment. Also, the dealers arrested will be replaced by more within hours.

It was very misleading to say that drug pushers "prey" on the homeless. While I am in no way defending the distribution of narcotics, this image of the drug scene is only one invented by police and anti-drug campaigns. In reality, dealers don't prey on anyone; rather; it is the users and addicts who must track them down. Take it from someone who knows.

Emily Whiteman

Los Angeles

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