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Taco truck owners allege LAPD harassment

July 14, 2009 7:13:09 PM PDT
They recently won a lawsuit against restaurant owners. Now, L.A. taco truck owners are pressing their case against the LAPD. The taco truck owners say they want police to stop harassing them, and delivered a formal complaint to the L.A. Police Commission.

Sergio's lunch truck is a familiar sight on the edge of MacArthur Park. It's just one part of L.A.'s rich tradition of lonchero trucks.

"Catering food trucks have been a part of the Angelino landscape for 30 plus years," said Erin Glenn from the Loncheros Association.

But some lunch truck owners say police harassment is another part of that history.

"They're sick and tired of all these abuses. Some members are afraid to go to work," Glenn said.

The newly-formed Loncheros Association say LAPD officers have been threatening Hispanic truck operators and trying to get them to move their businesses to other parts of the city.

"It just seems to go beyond the scope of what a police office should be doing, contacting people on their personal cell phones, going to their homes, you know, just really crossing the line in that sense," Glenn said.

The charges seem to catch LAPD by surprise.

LAPD Deputy Chief Sergio Diaz says he's been working with the Catering Truck Association since February, and is disappointed the group didn't first tell him of the allegations before taking it to the police commission.

"I told the organization had I known, had you shared these things with me ... we could've fixed it," Diaz said.

Diaz says the Loncheros Association's problem is not with LAPD policy, but with individual police officers.

An investigation into the allegations against those officers will now be launched.

"We will take weeks and months to investigate it and to figure out what happened, and particular dates and times, and whether that was misconduct or not," Diaz said.

Loncheros Association members say they're also worried about retribution. They're asking LAPD to transfer the officers in question to other parts of this city.

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