A UCLA study found that Los Angeles’s year-old Safer City Initiative to clean up skid row has reduced crime but that few additional social services have been initiated, the Los Angeles Times reports. “There have been unintended consequences that have negatively impacted the homeless and mentally disabled people, with unpaid citations for jaywalking leading to people going to jail and a focus on small-quantity drug buys ending up with ordinary addicts being sent to state prison,” said Gary Blasi, a UCLA law professor.
Top Los Angeles Police Department officials cited a more than 35 percent drop in serious crime in skid row as well as a similar drop in the number of homeless people on the streets since the initiative began last September. “It is more than numbers. We are saving lives with the Safer City Initiative. That alone is a measure of its success. We used to pull dead bodies out of tents, parks, and outhouses,” said police commander Andy Smith. The push to clean up skid row is centered on the addition last year of 50 patrol officers. The study notes that Police Chief William Bratton warned that policing alone would not end the problem of chronic homelessness on skid row.