Today, officers from the Azusa Police Department conducted another operation in the San Gabriel River to contact trespassers in the riverbed. The officers were joined by members of the Los Angeles County Fire Arson Investigation Unit, officers from Los Angeles County Department Of Animal Care and Control,as well as representatives from the Chief Executive Office of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), The San Gabriel Valley Consortium on Homelessness, and Volunteers of America.
This was the second operation in the riverbed this month. On April 9th, officers conducted the first operation in which numerous occupied and abandoned encampments were located and several homeless subjects were contacted. All subjects that were contacted were offered resources available to the homeless. Only one was interested in taking advantage of those resources, but he later refused the assistance being offered to him. The remaining subjects were advised of trespassing laws and provided contact information for homeless resources should they reconsider the offer. Read the original article here.
Although this portion of the San Gabriel River is owned and managed by the Army Corps of Engineers (Federal Government), the Azusa Police Department has made numerous contacts with the transient individuals and advised them they were trespassing. We have also offered them services for the homeless, resulting in a few subjects abandoning their camps. The riverbed camps generally consist of altered landscape, tents, makeshift bathrooms, fire pits, smelting pits, etc. The number of camps fluctuates, but there is constantly a large amount of trash and debris left in the riverbed by the trespassers.
The Azusa PD is working hard to reduce trespassing and illegal camping in the riverbed, hoping the result will be a safer environment for people that legally visit and live in the area. Furthermore, there has been an increase in the number of brushfires in the area during the last several months and reducing the illegal camping will help to reduce the wildfire danger associated with the makeshift fire pits that are found in the illegal camps. We would also like to protect the riverbed plant and animal habitat, promoting ecological health in the area, while protecting the ground water supply from the contaminants and human waste that the camps release directly into the soil.
Numerous occupied and abandoned encampments were located and several homeless subjects were again contacted. Subjects that had been previously advised that it is illegal to trespass and camp in the riverbed were arrested. Several of them also had outstanding arrest warrants that they were additionally charged with. All persons contacted during this operation were again provided information on resources for the homeless that are available to assist them in relocating out of the riverbed.
Arrested for trespassing was David Firestine (Age 43), Sunny Mellon (Age 61), Martin Madrigal (Age 48), George Marinov (Age 64), James Kitto (Age 59), Douglas Bearden (Age 52), Mark Velasquez (Age 60), and Thomas Vague (Age 53). Velasques and Vague also had warrants for their arrest. Delbert Oleson (Age 53) was arrested for trespassing, providing false information to a peace officer, and warrants.