New Chief, New Relationship with Cyclists? LAPD Creates Bicycling Working Group

11_25_09_bike_cop.jpgAn LAPD bike officer, moments after complaining to me about Midnight Ridazz, corks an intersection during the 2008 4SBB ride. Photo: Ingrid Peterson/Flickr

Over the last several weeks, Mayor Villaraigosa and his new police chief, Charlie Beck, have been holding community meetings and town halls throughout the city.  At nearly every stop, they were met by cyclists who are concerned with the rising violence on the streets and the worsening relationship between some riders and the LAPD.  In West Los Angeles, Alex Thompson pigeonholed his Councilman, Bill Rosendahl, and questioned the Chief on street justice.  In the Valley, Bike Advisory Committee Chair Glenn Bailey organized cyclists to get out for the meetings.  Downtown, it was the Bike Coalition and representatives from Echo Park Bicycles, who have organized meetings on bike theft in recent weeks.  These are just a small sampling of the mobilization efforts cyclists underwent city-wide.

The good news is that Beck seems to have heard their calls.  Earlier this week, he announced the creation of a working group to examine the LAPD’s bicycle policies, both official and unofficial, develop strategies to deal with street violence against cyclists and devise ways to counter the rising number of bicycle thefts.   Heading up the effort is veteran Lieutenant Andre Dawson (not this guy), who works directly out of the new commissioner’s office.  Previously, Dawson headed the Police Commission’s investigative division, served as communications officer for the Rampart Division, and headed the Southern Division’s CRASH program.

Of course we’ll have to await the results of the working group before declaring victory; but cyclists should be encouraged by Beck’s olive branch.  I spoke with Dawson last night who seemed eager to get to work, even if he will be out of town for much of December, and encouraged me to call any time.  The LACBC sent an email announcing the commission last night; the full text of which can be read after the jump.

LACBC, folks from Echo Park Cycles and other cyclists showed up to the meet and greet with
Chief Charlie Beck on Saturday where we alerted him that physical assaults on cyclists,
harassment by motorists and bicycle thefts have been increasing in LA.

Chief
Beck is interested in addressing these issues seriously and has
assigned Lieutenant Andre Dawson, as the bicycle liaison in his office
to work with us on addressing these concerns. 

LAPD will
be putting together a work group to continue to work with cyclists on
addressing these issues. LACBC will also continue to work with them to
develop educational material that all
their officers will be required to view during their roll call and
training.

——————————————————–

Here is what you can do now!
Report
all assaults, thefts or acts of harassment, regardless of how minor
they are. It is an initial step that we can do now, to help them
track and identify where
these problems are happening and to help them identify suspects.

-Call in and report incident to LAPD precinct in area of occurrence*
-If
you are assaulted: give as much info as possible regarding suspect,
license plate, color of car, clothing they were wearing, etc
-If your bike was stolen: give then as much info about the bike, serial #, color of bike, make/model, suspect info, etc

*If
the officer refuses to take the report or says that they do not have
time, that it is not a crime or any other excuse, call Lieutenant Andre Dawson at 213-792-3551 and explain the situation to him. (note from Damien: Dawson assured me that someone will be able to handle calls in his absence.)

He has assured us that he will make sure to take care of it and hold the officers accountable for what is happening in the area.