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Venice Beach sweep nets nearly 50 violators; social services offered

February 12, 2010 |  9:03 am

Police on horseback and in sport utility vehicles swept across Venice Beach in the darkness Friday morning, arresting nearly 50 people, many homeless, on warrants and felony violations, authorities said.

The sweep was part of an effort to address a recent spike in crime and a jump in the number of transients sleeping on the beach after it closes at midnight, LAPD officials said.

Friday's action marked the first time the beach curfew task force had combined a sweep with outreach efforts, officials said. Teams of social workers, counselors and religious representatives, including priests, were asked by the Los Angeles Police Department to meet with those arrested and inform them about available social services, including drug recovery programs.

“They handed out pamphlets of information on where to try and get shelter, gave them medical attention, gave them information to try and help them with being homeless,” said Sgt. Kevin Lowe, day watch commander of the Pacific Division. “A lot of them don’t take our advice, but at least we offer it.”

Sgt. Jeff Merlo, who participated in the sweep, could not confirm reports that some of the homeless thanked officers for arresting them because they had not showered in days. But he did say those rounded up were  cooperative.

“They could go back to the beach, but we’re hoping they’ll take our offers for services,” he said.

-- Amina Khan

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