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Thread Box:
bicycle news:
Thread started by themidnightsocial! at 03.27.09 - 1:43 am



Failure to Communicate?
By Stephen Box

Cyclists on a Saturday night bike ride through mid-city Los Angeles incurred the wrath of the LAPD and ended up detained, handcuffed and cited for infractions that included riding a bicycle without a bike license and carrying a driverís license with an out of date address.

According to LAPD Information Officer Anna Aguirre, the incident began when they received a call of "assault with a deadly weapon" at 3rd and La Brea. Officers responding to the call encountered approximately 100 cyclists in the Ralphs parking lot and called for "all available units." The deadly weapon turned out to be a motor vehicle and the victim turned out to be a cyclist. LAPD officers interviewed the motorist and the cyclist and determined that no crime had been committed and allowed the motorist to leave. At the same time, supporting LAPD officers and their supervisor began detaining arriving cyclists still in the street, handcuffing them and ultimately issuing the tickets that critics hold up as evidence of harassment.

In January the City Council declared a moratorium on the enforcement of LA's bike license law. This action followed a Police Commission recommendation a month earlier to immediately enact a moratorium in the enforcement of LA's bike license law, an action that followed a report from Police Chief Bratton recommending the repeal of the law because it was ineffective and outdated.

Bratton goes so far as to say "Given our continued efforts to deploy all available sworn personnel to field operations in direct support of our crime fighting and community policing efforts, reviving the bicycle licensing program at this time is not prudent."

None of which seemed to matter to the Officers who now had several cyclists in handcuffs and were busy cutting the backpack off the back of a cuffed detainee as he lay facedown across the trunk of a police car. A cyclist on the other side of the intersection secured his bike and began photographing the incident on foot from different vantage points. He then crossed the street, earning a pair of cuffs and a ticket for crossing "against a circular red," a violation typically reserved for motorists, not pedestrians.

The photographer, bike activist Alex Thompson, took his photos and his ticket to the Police Commission this past Tuesday and leveled a charge that the responding LAPD officers detained cyclists in handcuffs and then stretched their imaginations to come up with citable offenses, all without probable cause. The Commission immediately turned the case over to the Inspector General.

As of this past Wednesday, Captain Davis, Commanding Officer for the Wilshire Area, has released a statement that indicates in part " With regards to the citations for no Bike License, the "No License" section has been canceled. And, in the spirit of the law the entire citation for the two violators will be canceled. The policy for the moratorium on bike licenses has been discussed with my command. This is a lesson learned, your cooperation and understanding on this matter is appreciated."

Critics of the incident claim that canceling the tickets fails to answer some significant questions including 1) on a Saturday night in LA, is it really a priority to herd cyclists off the street? 2) how does a City Council, Police Commission and Police Chief directive calling for a moratorium on the bike license law get missed by so many LAPD officers and supervisors? 3) why are the responding officers working so hard to find infractions that they will handcuff a cyclist and spend 15-20 minutes looking up obscure and unenforceable code?

The LAPD's position, according to Watch Commander Sgt. Pickett and Information Officer Aguirre, is that the LAPD received reports of traffic violations, alcohol use and other violations by the cyclists on the street that night and that they were just responding to complaints. Cyclists countered this claim by challenging the LAPD to cite those who violate the law, not simply anyone riding a bike.

As for the charge that the handcuffing of the detainees was an extreme and unnecessary tactic, apparently it's the Officer's discretion to use handcuffs "to maintain safety and control." Unfortunately, no records are kept so there is no way of analyzing or evaluating the use of restraints by officers, by area, by incident or any other criteria.

As for the missed memo, a couple of questions: If an order from the City Council, Police Commission and the Police Chief can be missed/ignored by LAPD officers in the field what will it take to get their attention. And, maybe a reissue of Chief Brattonís comment about devoting manpower to cuffing cyclists with the need to fight real crime is in order. You think? (Stephen Box in a transportation and cyclist advocate and writes for CityWatch. He can be reached at Stephen@thirdeyecreative.net)

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Police respond to complaints. We generate complaints. We will most likley generate complaints in the future, most rides take on an aggressive stance. We will not be treated fair, I have no expectation of fair treatment by the LAPD. I will impart my maxium that I have used for years regard the cops:

You don't have to outrun the cops, you just have to outrun one other person.

You beat the man by not getting caught.



rev106
03.27.09 - 10:01 am

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Stephen Box RULES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



barleye
03.27.09 - 10:41 am

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Oh hell no please DON'T run from the cops. That is going to cause all sorts of problems.





Roadblock
03.27.09 - 11:02 am

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.You beat the man by not getting caught.

That's why it pays not to get to overly buzzed when at a big ride like CRANK Mob.
But, if you're trying too hard to be King Shit and knock back 6-8 tall-cans, then you've ventured out of your own exclusion zone!!!



bentstrider
03.27.09 - 11:05 am

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Let me translate what Captain Davis from Wilshire is trying to say: "Ohhh, that memo from Chief Bratton. Whoops, please don't sue us. "



DJwheels
03.27.09 - 11:38 am

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that's an intense story.

cops are like robots with handcuffs and short tempers and power.



Antranik
03.27.09 - 12:02 pm

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bike activist Alex Thompson is a dangerous individual. Why doesn't anyone remember him spamming the thread where he was losing the debate? Spammed the hell out of it! Debate was over! That's how dangerous he is.

In regards to running from the cops. That's what got the whole fiasco started when S&S did their ride in LB. I know, I was there and saw the whole thing. We were on Broadway and Magnolia, this unit pulled along side us on the left. A dude booked as soon as he saw the cops and it was on! And they did catch their dude.

If you ain't done nutin wrong, take ur chances. You make it worst by running.




User1
03.27.09 - 12:15 pm

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Rev106 - I've heard it spoken as "You don't have to outrun the bear, just your friends."

Anyway, what's the point in running? I think the above illustrates that there is something to be gained in standing up for yourself.



Alex Thompson
03.27.09 - 12:18 pm

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So, we found a weak spot in the LAPD to alert to our council members for our benefit. We can choose keep the flame on. Perhaps in doing so it will make some waves for the LAPD. However, I have a concern they will hold a big grudge on us for our solid stance, and it might infect bike community and cop relations even more.

But, whatever. Just follow your heart and let the cheif take a little heat. Police should not have to resort dirty tactics in order to feel like the have to control a peacefull and lawful assemblage of people on bicycles.

I recommend for a moment that you try to put yourself in the mind of the police. They are scared that we are loose cannons and that we may have the potental to upsurp chaos. (Far from truth?)

Ultimately, I don't think it will really affect the LAPD to change that much.
Also, I watch too many cop dramas on cable.



Joe Borfo
03.27.09 - 12:26 pm

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I don't even watch 24, but I hope I'll catch up somewhere.



User1
03.27.09 - 12:29 pm

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BIG BROTHER'S WATCHING



FBI
03.27.09 - 12:39 pm

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You guys - I just realized things will only get worse. We shouldn't do anything, we just risk angering the cops and making everything worse and causing a disaster!

When my little brother, who is way bigger than me, reaches across the table and takes a big bite out of my sandwich, I don't do anything except stare at my toes. I mean, he could kick my ass, so I better not say anything.



Alex Thompson
03.27.09 - 12:45 pm

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saying something is fine.... running from the cops implies, whether true or not, that we are doing something wrong.

I will always talk to the cops because I know in my heart I am not doing anything wrong I'm simply riding with hundreds of other people on bicycles.



Roadblock
03.27.09 - 1:15 pm

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"I asked the cops if they were cracking down on bicycle infractions for any particular reason and was told they were getting 'a lot of complaints.' I mentioned Crank Mob, and one officer nodded."



Joe Borfo
03.27.09 - 7:26 pm

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Referenced here.



Joe Borfo
03.27.09 - 7:28 pm

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I often wonder what one needs in order to become part of one of those federal oversight agents that go out and keep tabs on the municipal law-enforcement?

After giving it some thought, maybe I should get some more schooling done.
Become "that federal guy" that the upper brass of any, big city police force cowers in fear over.



bentstrider
03.27.09 - 8:15 pm

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