The Los Angeles Police Chief is adding more officers to patrol Los Angeles public libraries, in response to an NBC4 undercover investigation that exposed illegal activity at local libraries. Those crimes often occurred while LAPD cops were on duty inside the libraries.
"I was personally ashamed of our performance," L.A. Police Chief Charlie Beck told the I-Team's Joel Grover after watching the NBC4 report. "Believe me, I've let the people who work for me know that."
The I-Team spent three months undercover, exposing rampant drug use, dealing and lewd conduct at local branches. Hidden cameras caught people smoking crystal meth, snorting drugs, and shooting up what appeared to be heroin right outside libraries, while LAPD officers texted, read and talked inside. In one case, an LAPD officer at downtown's Central Library appeared to be dozing off with a newspaper on his lap, while a man nearby snorted what he said was crystal meth, and others smoked marijuana.
During hours of surveillance over a twelve week period, the I-Team never observed officers patrolling any areas outside the libraries.
Chief Beck says he's already increased armed police presence at six L.A. public library branches that are considered most "problematic." He said he's also issuing new orders to LAPD unarmed security officers assigned to libraries.
"One of the things we've changed, partially because of [the NBC4] piece, is they are going to be patrolling the adjacent environs to the library," Beck said. "We're going to … direct them to get out and work the neighborhoods, not just stay in the library."
The same day Chief Beck made that assurance, the I-Team observed an increased police presence outside the Goldwyn and Durant library branches in Hollywood, where NBC4 cameras had documented illegal behavior.
"We are going to focus the kind of resources that we have … to make sure people feel secure around the libraries," said Beck.
One woman who lives in an apartment across the street from Goldwyn Library, and asked that her name not be used, told the I-Team she and her neighbors have been "terrified" because of the illegal activity near their homes. She said she's noticed the heightened police presence, but expressed concern that the LAPD's new commitment to library security will be short-lived. "I have seen a difference. I hope it lasts," the woman told NBC4.
"We will do a better job (securing libraries)," Police Chief Beck told NBC4. "Judge me on what I do, not what I say."