While Councilman Phil Brock’s violent altercation with a homeless man on the Promenade headlined weekend public safety activity, there were other instances of crime and concern that left residents rattled.
At approximately 4:15 a.m. on Saturday morning, police officers responded to the intersection of 4th Street and Santa Monica Blvd for a 911 call of a stabbing that just occurred.
According to SMPD, preliminary information suggests the suspect and victim were on a Metro bus and exited at the bus stop in the 400 block of Santa Monica Blvd. Lt. Erika Aklufi said there was no indication the two individuals knew each other but an altercation ensued, escalating to a stabbing.
The victim, who is homeless, was stabbed multiple times on his back and buttocks. He was transported to a local hospital where he was listed in stable condition with non-life threatening wounds.
The suspect, who fled prior to police arriving on scene, was described as a Black man, 20-30 years old, wearing black clothing and wrapped in a gray blanket. SMPD said the suspect appeared to also be homeless.
A few hours later, the police and fire departments responded to an unrelated call at about 6:10 a.m. when officers were called to the intersection of 14th and Wilshire for a report of a body in the street. Upon arrival, they found a man lying in the street, next to the curb.
The victim is described as a 40-year-old male, did not appear to be homeless and who has an address in Los Angeles. SMPD said their investigators are working with the coroner’s office to help determine the cause of death.
The incidents prompted a flurry of emails to city officials Monday decrying the state of the city.
“City Council needs to respond to resident’s concerns in an efficient, transparent manner,” said Larry and Carol Arreola. “Please take action to get the needed resources the SMPD needs to fight the uptick in crime. If you don’t, crime will surely get worse.”
The City’s recently passed budget did include increases for SMPD including new officers, technology investments, transit safety officers for the Big Blue Bus and restoration of staff to SMPD’s Animal Shelter. However, those emailing City Hall this week want more.
“As I had mentioned in a recent neighborhood meeting, residents and business owners speak not only for our community, but to support the funding for and strengthening of our Santa Monica
Police Department who work 24/7 with what resources they have available to them to keep our
neighborhoods, businesses, and visitors as safe as possible,” said Dr. Anna Rogers. “We show up to support our hard-working officers and always ask them what they need to make their job safer and increase effectiveness.”
Those emails followed a call to action from John Alle’s Santa Monica Coalition to encourage residents to attend Tuesday’s council meeting and speak on public safety issues. The Coalition email specifically asks speakers to oppose any changes to “pretextual traffic stop” policies recently discussed at the Public Safety Reform and Oversight Commission. It also criticizes a proposal to have Downtown Santa Monica fund private security guards in the area and reiterates the group’s long standing opposition to a County organized needle exchange program in local parks.
“In the coming weeks, the City will be voting on private security to work under the direction of the Police department and patrol our Downtown area,” said the Coalition email. “They will be unarmed and this will be funded by the stakeholders of DTSM, Inc. and merchants as the City has gone back on its commitment. The stakeholders of DTSM, Inc. and merchants are now unfairly burdened with funding this security that benefits all of Santa Monica.”
The trio of weekend incidents comes a week after a shooting at the beach that sent two young women to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries and as local officials report a steady increase in crime following a pandemic lull.
In the first quarter of this year, the most serious crimes, known as Part 1 (homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, grand theft auto and arson), increased by 14%. Part II offenses (simple assault, DUIs, fraud, vandalism, narcotics, etc.) increased by 19%. So far this year, notable changes include a decrease in incidents of aggravated assault, grand theft and arson; and an increase in larceny and burglary.
Overall crime rates are still below pre-pandemic levels.
There were 1,212 Part 1 crimes in 2019. That dropped by 25 percent in 2020 due to pandemic era closures of public spaces. Serious crimes rebounded to 1,126 incidents in 2021 and then dropped to 1,028 last year before increasing this year to 1,177.
Council meets at City Hall (1685 Main Street) on Tuesday, July 18. Closed session begins at 5:30 p.m.