Pershing Square regulars not all supportive of new task force
An LAPD SUV drives through Pershing Square Monday afternoon as part of the park's new task force.
DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES — Since a Pershing Square task force was created last week to address issues of health and public safety in the park, police officers have been seen strolling through the square daily.
But not all regulars to the park think the patrol -- or the task force -- is necessary.
John Taylor, who works Downtown, comes to Pershing Square daily when the weather is good. He said he has not noticed much of a problem in the park during his frequent visits.
While Taylor said Occupy LA members and homeless individuals can sometimes leave messes in the park, he added that they are not a real nuisance to anybody.
“I think they are a little overreacting [with the task force] at this point,” said Taylor as he ate his lunch in the park Monday afternoon.
The task force was created after business owners and residents complained about the cleanliness of the park -- including the presence of hypodermic needles, human waste and graffiti -- and instances of violence, Councilmember Jose Huizar’s office told Blogdowntown last week.
Among the task force’s plans are increasing law enforcement’s presence during the park’s farmers market, upping Los Angeles Police Department patrol during park hours, and placing undercover narcotics officers in the park to help address reported drug crimes.
A few police officers were stationed inside Pershing Square Monday afternoon, and an LAPD SUV circled the park at one point.
There will also be regular cleanups of the park and the installation of 13 solar trash compactors, aimed at helping reduce vermin and improve public health.
Jaclyn Lazur strolls through Pershing Square about three times a day. While walking her dog Monday, the Downtown resident said she noticed the increased police presence in the park.
She said, however, she has not seen any change to the one cleanliness issue of the square that has concerned her: people urinating in the small area reserved for dogs.
While she has not had any real problem with public safety, Lazur said she would like to see the task force clean up that area.
For Rose Fonseca, however, the park’s cleanliness has never been an issue. Fonseca, who likes to come to Pershing Square to meditate, sat quietly under a tree Monday afternoon.
She said she did not feel there was a need for a task force devoted to cleaning or patrolling the park, but she did note that she has seen less homeless people in the park in the past few days.
LAPD said no one group has contributed to the park’s health and safety issues, but rather it has been a collection of individuals who identify as homeless or members of the Occupy movement.
Although some of the park’s visitors did not see the need for the extra police officers, Lavatus Donerson said he appreciated the police presence.
Donerson often comes to Pershing Square during his days-off from work. He said he enjoys the park and has never had a real problem in it -- on a scale from one to 10, he would give the park a 10.
But the additional police patrol can never hurt, he added.
“It’s good to have police around,” Donerson said. “It keeps [Pershing Square] maintained.”