LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Security cameras at the Union Rescue Mission captured Sunday’s fatal officer-involved shooting on Skid Row.
As the shooting raises questions about how the LAPD deals with mentally ill people, the executive director of the nonprofit says the scope of the problem is far too large for a simple solution.
“We’re asking people to live in an impossible situation, and we’re asking our police to do the impossible,” said Andy Bales, adding that conditions on Skid Row today are the worst he has ever seen.
“Normally, there’s Spice sales right behind you at this street, and people smoke this Spice and go out of their heads,” he said, gesturing to other nearby locations. “This is a heroin shooting gallery – the bathroom down here. Right across the street is a crack cocaine gang that sells crack cocaine,” Bales continued.
“[Police are] facing life and death situations every day when they serve on the streets of Skid Row,” he said.
On Monday, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck described the specialized training officers involved in Sunday’s fatal shooting received.
“The way you have conversations, the way you offer options, the way you give some space, the body language you portray … all of that is part of the training,” Beck said.
Bales said more extensive police training is needed but believes the only real solution is for communities throughout L.A. County to care for their own homeless populations, rather send them to Skid Row for help.
“The folks who are dealing with severe mental health issues need to be sent to a peaceful, safe place, not left here to die on the streets of Skid Row,” he said.