THE COHEN COLUMN--Oh, say can you can “C” by the deception that we fight. What so naively we hoped at the City’s last elections. Whose broad promise we bought though the methods unclear gave proof that our trust was sadly mistaken. (With apologies to F.S. Key.)
Julie Butcher in CityWatch gave the overall lay of the land with Charter Amendment C. It is must reading for a fuller analysis of the issue.
Simply put Measure C (on the LA City ballot Tuesday, May 16th) would allow an LAPD officer, whom the Chief of Police has recommend termination, demotion or suspension, to choose whether the disciplinary hearing is to be before a Board of Rights composed of three people, two police officers (Captains or higher rank) and one civilian or, before a board of just three civilians.
The key take-a-way is that the police officer has the choice, it is not imposed. Which would you pick? Frankly who wouldn’t pick the board that might give a more lenient verdict?
Julie explained: During the period from 2011 to November 2016, civilians were consistently more lenient than their sworn officer counterparts.
In fact what we have is a wolf in civilian oversight's clothing. The LA City Legislative Analyst's study found that when the board of rights found an officer not guilty of misconduct, the civilian member always voted to acquit.
So what’s your pick? – The civilian board, duh.
How is Charter Amendment C present by its supporters? They insist it gives more civilian oversight even though it is at least possible that the all civilian board may never hear disciplinary case – if the [allegedly] misbehaving police officers so choose. That could happen if the board of rights was actually composed of members of the community at large and they held LAPD officers to a high standard of conduct.
The civilians now sitting on the board come from a very restricted group, they are “…attorneys who sit on the panels for 10 and 20 years in a row.”
Attorneys I suspect that would have a professional interest in playing good guy to LAPD cops. Just a thought.
Why is the Los Angeles Police Protective League behind this change? Well first of all it is called the Police PROTECTIVE League not the Police ACOUNTABILITY League. It is a lobbyist for its members.
“The mission of the Los Angeles Police Protective League is to vigilantly protect, promote, and improve the working conditions, legal rights, compensation and benefits of Los Angeles Police Officers.” Check it out.
OK, we can discount its bias. That is its job paid for by some 10,000 officers serving and retired.
When wanting favorable outcome politicians seem to catch the alt-reality flu. Facts shmacks spin it and tell ‘em just what we want them to know.
The Mayor and City Council caught it. Herb Wesson, LA City Council President claims “Amendment C increases civilian oversight … by increasing an alternative all civilian board to review police disciplinary matters.”
We have seen that the alternative civilian board is alternative in name only. It essentially serves at the request of the accused officer.
Where did Amendment C come from? It was birthed by the L.A. Police Protective League and nurtured by the City’s elected.
Read Craig Lally’s, President of the LAPPL, own words.
Why is the Mayor supporting it? Some say that “ … it’s really about a mayor who has ambitions to seek higher office doing a favor for the police union."
“Under heavy lobbying from the union that represents rank and file LAPD officers, the Los Angeles City Council Wednesday took the first step toward creating civilian panels that would review discipline involving cops accused of misconduct.
The change could tip the balance in favor of officers — studies show civilians are actually more lenient with cops involved in wrongdoing than command officers.”
What the City of Angles really need is something like what The City of Las Vegas has [believe it or not] a real citizen’s review board. L.V.M.P.D. Citizen Review Board.
The genesis for the citizens review board as stated on their web site is:
“In response to the 1997 fatal shooting of Daniel Mendoza by off duty Metro police officers, minority communities from the city joined in efforts to establish an independent citizen police review board with subpoena power and the authority to recommend sanctions for officer misconduct.
The mission of the L.V.M.P.D. Citizen Review Board is to serve as an independent civilian oversight agency to review complaints of misconduct against Metro peace officers and to review internal investigations done by the L.V.M.P.D.
The Board is composed entirely of civilian volunteers whose purpose is to make objective determinations on the merits of every case and respect the rights of both officers and complainants.
CRB members may recommend disciplinary action, if findings show that misconduct occurred, or may recommend additional training or changes in existing policy where warranted. “
Las Vegas even makes it easy to apply for a seat on the board, unlike LA
Clamor loudly for real civilian oversight. Vote NO on C Tuesday May 16th.
(Michael N. Cohen is a former board member of the Reseda Neighborhood Council, founding member of the LADWP Neighborhood Council Oversight Committee, founding member of LA Clean Sweep and occasional contributor to CityWatch.)