SANTA MONICA (CBSLA) — Residents around a popular park in Santa Monica said they are worried about taking their children there following spate of disturbing incidents involving members of the homeless community in the area.
Parents who live near Christine Emerson Reed Park on Lincoln and Wilshire boulevards told CBS2 News they’ve been extra watchful of their children when they go the the park. There have been reports of homeless persons exposing themselves to children, leaving drug paraphernalia on the grounds, and even having sexual intercourse in public.
“I can’t really allow her to play outside on the grass because I’m afraid that she can step on something. Somebody found even needles in the park,” claimed Kate Tushevsky, the mother of 2-year-old Sasha.
Janet McLaughlin told CBS2 her 10-year-old son won’t play in the park anymore.
“People are lying around, and they’re sleeping. And they may be benign, or they may have just smoked meth, and they may be going into a psychotic phase, and they may assault you. They may attack you,” McLaughlin said, running down the list of hypotheticals. She claimed a friend of her daughter was slashed with a broken picture frame by a homeless man at nearby Tongva Park in August.
Police were called to the park last week after a 12-year-old boy who was at Reed for a tennis lesson claimed he saw two people having sex in a bathroom stall. The suspects had already left the scene by the time police arrived, The Santa Monica Mirror reported.
Both women said they have asked the city for help in the form of more police patrols.
In response to the incident, the city of Santa Monica released the following statement:
“We understand that the impacts of the regional homeless crisis are felt by residents during the course of everyday life, including in Reed Park. This is why we have made significant investments in infrastructure, programming and public safety at Reed.”
The city said it has increased patrols and social services for the homeless. Local homeless advocates like St. Joseph Center’s C3 Team work to connect homeless persons with housing and mental health services in the area, the Mirror reported.
The homeless have, themselves, been victims of deadly violence recently. A homeless man was murdered in Santa Monica late last month by Ramon Escobar, who is suspected of having brutally attacked at least three other homeless people in the L.A. area.
The Santa Monica Police Dept. had not responded to CBS2 Tuesday regarding the alleged incidents.