Youth Lawlessness in Pacific Palisades Goes Unchecked


Several residents wrote this editor about the lawlessness at the Palisades Rec Center on Friday, February 2.

The first wrote: “The explosions have been going on tonight at the Rec Center since 6 p.m. While we were waiting for our kids outside of basketball, the explosions began BY THE GYM. We had sparks shower us as we stood at the gym entrance.

“The lawlessness happening at this Rec Center, multiple times per week, with absolutely no repercussions or consequences to the teens involved, is a tragedy waiting to happen, and an absolute outrage,” the resident said. “Cameras and footage mean nothing with LAPD, which will not arrest or enforce existing laws. These are felonies happening in the park multiple times per week.”

A second resident wrote that they were at the Rec Center at 8:04 p.m. “There were 18 teens in E bikes riding into park. Thirty minutes prior there were three explosions. There were garbage cans obviously that had been blown up in the middle of the road.

“I pulled up and spoke to the bikers and told them I would call the police if they did not disband,” the resident said. “They [teens on bikes] were not involved with the explosions. I called 911 and they did not want to hear any of it.  Where is Brian E (Senior Lead officer Brian Espin) and his car on a Friday night: he is aware of what goes on?”

Palisades Senior Lead Officer Brian Espin.

Espin reported at the January Park Advisory Board meeting that the Captain “has given us some overtime personnel, but the minute the patrol unit leaves, then the kids, like cockroaches come back.”

“If we catch them with fireworks, we will ticket them,” Espin said.

The way the law is written, the police have to catch them in the act, otherwise they will not be able to prosecute them, regardless of how many films are sent by neighbors, But Espin said that once they are able to identify the bad actors “we can use the video footage to place the kids at the scene.”

Espin said that some kids have been cited for being out after curfew [10 p.m.] and they have been cited for riding electric bikes (the law stated one needs to be older than 16 to ride an e-bike, if it can reach speeds of 28 mph or more.)

Kids have taken things from CVS, one resident reported that the manager was upset because the kids stole things and when he stopped them, they spit in his face.

An ongoing issue is kids pretending to pay for candy and drinks at self-checkout and then walking out with things. One resident was courageous enough to call them out, saying, “Hey you didn’t pay for that, put it back.”

Another resident, whose daughter was tasered in the park last November, started an ad hoc group of parents to patrol the park, but was threatened by the kids.

“They’re rude, disrespectful and there are no consequences,” Espin said, noting that parents don’t seem to monitor their kids’ whereabouts.

Why don’t police arrest juveniles and put them in a facility?

Thank back to the beginning of the television show “Law and Order?”

The show opens with a narrator: “In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: the police, who investigate crime; and the district attorneys, who prosecute the offenders. These are their stories.”

Right now, in the current political climate, criminals are not arrested, they are cited. If a member of LAPD arrests someone, they must take them down to booking and have them processed, which could take all day. That means this area, which only has a beach detail, is left largely uncovered.

Hydee Feldstein Soto discontinued the popular Neighbor Prosecutor program in April.

The neighborhood prosecutor used to be helpful with seeing that criminals were booked correctly, but that program was discontinued in April by L.A. City Attorney Hydee Feldstein Soto, who started a new program called Community Law Groups.

The “No bail,” policy that went into effect in Los Angeles County in September, means that many criminals who are arrested, taken to jail, are released and are back on the streets that same day.

Most crimes committed by minors, even violent ones, are not eligible for prosecution in criminal court because the justice system favors rehabilitation for minors. The L.A. District Attorney is responsible for  all juvenile crimes.

When Gascon was elected in 2020, he promised to decrease incarceration and provide a more humane approach to criminal justice. He then passed nine special directives.

The Daily News ran a February 4 piece (“Are Voters Souring on DA Gascon?”), featuring the 12 candidates for L.A. County District Attorney. At least seven of them would repeal all of Gascon’s executive directives, which include no cash bail in most cases, that misdemeanors are not charged (rather those committing them be given help), and instead of charging youth, alternatives to detention be used.

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3 Responses to Youth Lawlessness in Pacific Palisades Goes Unchecked

  1. Jane Abrams says:

    This is a sad commentary on the state of the Palisades. I am disgusted and horrified by parents who take no responsibility for the scary and terrible behavior of their children!
    Hope they will be held responsible when a tragedy occurs!

  2. Wharfplank says:

    When I was a kid in the Palisades in the 60’s this type of stuff was reserved for one night…Halloween.

  3. CC Fischer says:

    This wont stop until it comes to their parents doorstep. Hopefully, not in a body bag.

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