Sunday, April 29, 2012

LAPD: FYI, We’re Too Busy to Ticket People For Not Leashing, or Picking up After, their Dogs

The LA Times had a story today about the small lawn area adjacent to the new LAPD Administration Building downtown that has been functioning, unofficially, as a dog park for downtown residents. In the story, LAPD Commander Andy Smith speaks about dog owners who fail to leash their pets and/or pick up after them (emphasis mine): 

Some disregard a sign that warns them to keep their dogs on a leash and pick up after them. "We are going to put up more signs," Smith said. "Police officers typically don't enforce leash laws. That's done by the Department of Animal Services, and it is a very low grade infraction. It is not something that calls for throwing handcuffs on someone and throwing them in jail."

The dog owners are technically in violation of a city code that carries a fine, Smith said. "But the dogs are not hurting anybody. Animal services are strapped with handling other work too and our police officers, well, are also too busy to come around here and write citations for that." Fines are $25 for a first conviction, $45 for a second conviction and $65 for any subsequent conviction.

LAPD does not typically enforce leash laws. Got it. Enforcing leash laws shouldn’t be LAPD’s priority. Got it. However, Commander Smith should have made it clear that not leashing and/or picking up after your dog is not a “technical” violation of a City ordinance but is an actual violation of a City ordinance. Full stop. If LAPD is not clear on that distinction, and their responsibility to enforce it as resources are available, a quick check of Los Angeles Municipal Code Sections 53.06, 53.49, and 63.44 should clear it up for them.

The only reason this is worth pointing out is that, as you may recall, the Mayor’s Proposed Budget for FY 2012-2013 recommends consolidating the Office of Public Safety (which is responsible for patrolling City Parks) with LAPD. So, if said consolidation goes through, LAPD would be responsible for enforcing (or not enforcing, as the case appears to be) Los Angeles Municipal Code Sections 53.06, 53.49, and 63.44 in City parks.

As someone who lives near the disaster off-leash dog haven that is Runyon Canyon Park, I find Commander Smith’s comments concerning and disheartening. I hope his comments are not reflective of how LAPD plans to patrol our City parks, and enforce their rules, if LAPD does indeed end up taking over the Office of Public Safety.

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