Call me a concerned citizen, but I know the non-emergency police line by heart - 877-ASK-LAPD. Being a single girl in the big, bad city calls for a measure of practical preparedness in the event of well, a non-emergency.
A couple weeks ago, I called Non-Emergency-Police (NEP) when I noticed a car speeding through an intersection that I knew had a stop sign. Upon closer inspection, we realized the only stop sign in the whole intersection, the one that should have stopped Speedracer – had fallen to the ground (whether through rusting or tomfoolery, we know not :). I jogged by a couple days later and was happy to note that the stop sign was back up and doing its job.
That was a happy ending to a non-emergency call. Unfortunately, we’ve had no such luck on a current non-emergency situation and we’re growing concerned that there may be an unhappy ending to this story.
Our apartment complex straddles two Los Angeles streets – the front entrance is on one street and the back entrance is on another street. Our apartment sits on the rear block so we typically use the rear entrance/exit. Next door to our apartment complex is a freaky old house, and their large backyard/lot, which is on the rear side, essentially outside my bedroom window. There is a small walk-way that separates my window and the yard, but that walk-way could easily be bridged.
The spooky house is a great old house, but it’s falling apart – holes in the window, a car full of crap in the driveway that never goes anywhere. But the yard is always maintained. We always wondered what the story was – on a block of massive apartment structures, this single house hold-out always piqued our curiosity, especially on walks home from the bar when we could see a TV on.
The back yard is not maintained at all. And in the last two months, what appears to be a homeless camp has emerged back there. There are coats, tarps, shoes, liquor bottles, unimaginable amounts of trash and filth. Every several nights, I hear someone moving around. Before the holidays, I called NEP to let them know about the location. They seemed to take my call seriously and said they would send someone out. One week later, the camp was still there.
After a recent lock-out, I spoke with our new apartment manager who said it was a good idea to keep up with NEP; she also gave me the back-story that the home is owned by an elderly woman who lives alone. Apparently, this woman is in no shape to leave home, let alone clean out a homeless camp in her backyard. I called NEP right after the conversation and they advised that they could only send police if there was someone there. They also gave me my local station’s phone number and from there, I left a message on the Neighborhood Watch Captain’s line. I went on my holiday travels; returned, and homeless camp was still there.
A couple nights ago, I actually heard a person out in the mess, rummaging and coughing. I quietly called NEP; they said they would send a unit over, but I never heard any evidence that the police came out and three days later, the camp is still there.
The plight of the homeless in America and in more moderate temp locales like Los Angeles is profoundly sad and disturbing. And I know that mental illness and homelessness often run hand-in-hand. With a couple grisly local murders, including this one (warning – pretty disturbing) perpetrated by mentally ill homeless people, I am concerned for my safety and that of the other people in the neighborhood.
Yeah, I don’t like the eyesore view from my window, but more importantly, I don’t want anyone to get hurt walking down the street or from their car into our apartment complex as they walk up the back stairs. And what about that helpless old lady that lives there?