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If Roundup Policy Exists, It Shouldn’t

A disturbing development in the current trial of two San Diego police officers was testimony last week from seven of their colleagues about an informal policy known among police as “Greyhound therapy.”

Allegedly condoned by the police high command, this approach to what ails downtown calls for officers to routinely clear transients from the streets in department vehicles, ferrying them to less populated parts of the city as dawn--and the arrival of the work force--approaches.

Patrolmen Lloyd J. Hoff Jr. and Richard P. Schaaf, charged with kidnaping three undocumented workers last August and robbing two of them, claim as part of their defense that they were simply participating in the longstanding practice. Their guilt or innocence is for the jury to decide.

But, if there is even an informal police policy of detaining transients without probable cause that they committed a crime, Chief Bob Burgreen should put a stop to it now. It is not illegal to be homeless or on the streets downtown before dawn. The police are well aware of this: The department’s own conduct manual prohibits such roundups.

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Burgreen and other top police officials have so far refused to comment on the officers’ testimony. The chief should waste no time issuing a directive to his employees halting “Greyhound therapy” and leave public policy decisions about downtown’s homeless to elected officials.


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