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Venice sees increased law-enforcement presence

April 25, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
You can expect to see more police the next time you visit the Venice Beach Boardwalk. The LAPD is stepping up enforcement following some recent violence at the popular attraction.

Venice Beach is a people-watching paradise. It is what you don't see coming that worries visitors, residents and police.

"There was two men chasing each other and one shot the other one," said Marina del Rey resident LaNora Herrema.

"Shootings, stabbings -- when I was 16 I got stabbed right here," said Studio City resident Tiffany Snow. "You can't see it -- tattooed over it."

The LAPD reports a decrease in robberies and rapes here but an increase in aggravated assaults. Most concerning is an attack related to a recent "flash mob." Then there was a stabbing at the weekly drum circle over Easter weekend.

The crime-watch group Venice311 says the freewheeling atmosphere has to go.

"Open containers of alcohol, bottles of vodka, bottles of booze, injecting drugs, smoking drugs," said Alexandria Thompson, spokesperson for Venice311.

Now an action plan from LAPD: Tapping intelligence sources to prepare for mass gatherings, and bringing in more back up on the busiest beach days.

"We'll have uniformed officers, we'll have officers on bikes, we'll have officers walking foot beats, we'll have officers working in undercover capacity. It will be the full-spectrum," said LAPD Capt. Jon Peters.

But to control the spectrum of crime, the captain says that's still not enough.

"We are not going to be able to arrest our way out of the problems that are happening there," said Peters.

Thompson says problems are also tied to well-heeled residents who join in lawless behavior, adding to a local culture of disobedience.

"Everybody from middle-class from O.C. with their kids, and open containers, to homeless transient elements and gangbangers," said Thompson.

Thompson urges all to assume responsibility, report nuisance crimes and set a new standard so citizens can keep the peace.

"It is Venice Beach -- does anybody want a patrol officer every 15 feet?" said Thompson.

LAPD officers say it's been there practice in the past to issue warnings and citations for drinking, but Peters says that time is over.