Dozens arrested in LAPD crackdown at Venice Beach
Los Angeles police arrested dozens of people over the weekend in the Venice Beach area as officers were out in force in response to violent incidents there in recent weeks, including a shooting during a "flash mob" gathering and the stabbing of a man in a drum circle on the sand.
More than 50 people have been booked since Friday for a variety of alleged offenses, including assault and public intoxication, according to the LAPD officials, who said there were so many people booked into the Pacific area station that the overflow of arrestees were taken to the 77th Street area station in South Los Angeles.
In addition to the arrests, officials said, LAPD officers handed out numerous citations in an effort to "send a message" to those who came to the beach to break the law. They said a final tally of arrests, including suspects taken into custody outside the immediate area around the Venice Beach waterfront, would be available later Monday.
The area along the boardwalk -- with its eclectic mix of tourists, street performers and bohemians -- is among the most popular visitor destinations in the Los Angeles areas, but policing the massive and sometimes unruly crowds is a challenge.
The LAPD routinely patrols the area on foot, on bikes and in SUVs along the sand and ramps up the number of officers in warm-weather months. After recent problems, two dozen officers from the West Bureau's violent crime task force were assigned to patrol the area, said Cmdr. Andy Smith.
No arrests have yet been made in the most high-profile incidents at the beach, the stabbing at a drum circle last weekend and the shooting that wounded a man during a "flash mob" gathering two weeks ago.
Overall, the number of violent crimes reported this year along the Venice boardwalk is roughly on par with the last two years, according to a Times analysis of LAPD data.
At least 26 violent crimes have been reported this year along the boardwalk in an area bounded by the ocean on the west and Pacific Boulevard on the east, compared with 25 at this point last year and 23 in the same span in 2009, according to the data.
Overall, crime in the Pacific Division, the LAPD patrol area that includes Venice Beach, has been trending down, with serious crimes dipping about 9% so far in 2011 and violent crime dropping about 5.6%, according to the LAPD.
-- Andrew Blankstein