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A skewed sense of priorities: Plans scrapped for Northeast Area parking lot/structure

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 11/19/2015 @ 03:53 PM

The citizens of Los Angeles expect a first-rate law enforcement Department, and to meet those justifiable expectations it is extremely important that the LAPD have up-to-date facilities for our officers. When they come to work, they come to protect the citizens of Los Angeles, and it is crucial that there is infrastructure in place to help, rather than hold them back. That is why the LAPPL was so thankful when it was announced that Northeast Area was getting a new station. However, when the LAPPL heard that the planned area for parking had been cut due to lack of funding, we were very disturbed. Whatever decision drove the $25 million budget short, and we don’t yet know what that was, it certainly appears to be the result of a massively skewed sense of priorities.

With no designated parking area for personnel, no street parking available nearby and limited public transportation options in Los Angeles, officers are forced to park a great distance at their own cost or in local business parking lots. However, the local business parking lots are no longer available. The only temporary solution the Department has identified is a gravel alley for personnel parking. First, this gravel alley doesn’t even have enough room for all of Northeast’s personnel. Second, the alley’s soft ground and downward slope makes it especially susceptible to flooding. What is the plan when the weather phenomenon “El Niño” comes?

This shoddy Department solution is also a major officer safety issue. Due to faulty equipment, the alley remains open to non-LAPD personnel, leaving officers susceptible to possible dangerous encounters. Near this alley is a public park where “the Avenues” gang members are known to hang out. These are the same gang members who ambushed and killed LASO Deputy Juan Escalante in 2008. With the current anti-police sentiment being spewed out, officers are vulnerable to dangerous lurkers looking to catch officers in an exposed and surprised position. Cars are susceptible to being vandalized and/or broken into. Must we wait for crimes to happen until this obvious officer safety issue is addressed?

LAPD officers work hard to serve the citizens of this city, and City officials should not create barriers to our officers’ ability to serve. What could be more important than providing for those who protect the citizens of Los Angeles? The City has left LAPD officers in the Northeast Area in an unsustainable situation without a functional way to drive to work, a necessity for nearly everyone in the car culture that is Los Angeles. It is unclear how the City and the Department expect our officers to resolve this issue, but it is clear the City should make parking at Northeast Area a priority and fix the current officer safety issue that is in place.

We invite you to share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

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Preservation of Life award: a terrible idea that will put officers in even more danger

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 11/12/2015 @ 04:34 PM

The daily work of Los Angeles Police Department officers is among the most challenging and dangerous jobs in the nation. Those who choose to do this hazardous work do so because they feel called to protect their community and have faith that the world-class training they received will protect not only the community, but also themselves.

LAPD officers are not seeking to receive an award. In fact, they are well aware that police work is often a thankless job, especially today, when anti-police rhetoric is prominent and perpetuated by the media and special interest groups.

The least we can do for these officers is preserve their right to go home to their families each night, and their right to take action to defend their own lives, and by extension, the lives of the public.

We recognize the Chief’s intentions, however, the reality is the “Preservation of Life” award announced Tuesday by Chief Beck is ill-conceived and in actuality has dangerous implications. Incentivizing officers for “preservation of life” suggests somehow that this is not what they train hard to do. It suggests that officers must go above and beyond their normal activities to avoid harm; or put another way, that officers will be penalized for resorting to an appropriate, lawful use of force. That is ludicrous. The last thing an LAPD officer wants to do is to harm, or worse yet, take the life of a suspect.

This award will prioritize the lives of suspected criminals over the lives of LAPD officers, and goes against the core foundation of an officer’s training.

Tuesday’s L.A. Times editorial piece references an incident earlier this month in which LAPD officers subdued a suspect without using deadly force. While we agree with the L.A. Times and Chief Beck that the officers’ actions were heroic, we are also very thankful that the officers involved were not injured during their efforts, a point not raised by the L.A. Times. This incident could have gone in an entirely different direction, and it epitomizes the often split-second situations where officers rely on their training to make it out alive. The “Preservation of Life” award undermines and devalues the training that has saved countless peace officer lives.

The truth is, we can think of a long list of officers who deserve to be awarded: officers who act heroically on a daily basis, and who protect the lives of everyone—even criminals—because it is their job to do so. Officers put their lives on the line each day and encounter countless violent suspects. The vast majority of these interactions are resolved without issue. Sometimes, however, force is needed to save multiple lives. That is the reality of police work. It is dangerous and not pretty at times. Using deadly force is the last resort to safeguard lives, and it is never our first choice.

The same L.A. Times article acknowledges this.

“Given the violent nature of our society and easy availability of firearms, use of force incidents are not about to disappear.”

We share their concerns over an increase in incidences of officer-involved force and shootings. Officers are increasingly feeling threatened in an already dangerous environment.

However, when the implication of this new award is to put the lives of suspects above the lives of our officers, then we have to speak up.

What we don’t want to see is a flag-draped coffin and the Chief speaking at an officer’s funeral stating, “This brave officer will be awarded the Preservation of Life medal.” This is simply a bad idea.

We invite you to share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

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The LAPD Centurions baseball team’s “Just Say No” pledge

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 11/09/2015 @ 12:21 PM

LAPD officers go above and beyond their daily duties to develop relationships with the community and make L.A. neighborhoods better and safer places to live. The inaugural short video in a series that highlights the work of these officers focuses on a new program of the Centurions, a baseball team made up entirely of LAPD officers. In the near future, we will debut additional videos that highlight the many ways our officers go “Beyond the Badge.”

The Centurions team dates back to the 19th century and the early years of baseball itself. The modern Centurions play great, competitive baseball. More than that, they are committed to working with young people in the community to form better relationships and develop baseball talent. The Los Angeles Police Protective League (LAPPL) has featured the team, as well as the activities of many other LAPD officers who devote significant off-duty time to community work, in our “Beyond the Badge” series that runs in our internal magazine, the Thin Blue Line.

We’ve made the Centurions “first up” in a series of LAPPL videos to showcase these stories because we believe more people should get involved in a new project, whether that’s with the Centurions or another worthy organization. As the brainchild of Centurions team manager, Officer Mike Scott, the Centurions ask young people throughout the city to take a pledge to “Just Say No” to drugs, crime and gangs.

The work of the Centurions and other community involvement efforts by the LAPD are all part of the bigger picture of how the police engage with citizens of all ages in an effort to lower crime in our neighborhoods over the long term by promoting positive role models and interaction with law enforcement. Building relationships between young people and officers wearing baseball uniforms, according to the Centurions, is a great way to break down barriers with young people and improve overall interactions between the community and the police. At the end of the day, the goal of every LAPD officer is to make Los Angeles a safer place for each citizen to live.

Click here to watch the Centurions’ valiant efforts to teach L.A. children about the dangers of drugs and gangs and, ultimately, promoting public safety. We invite everyone to watch the video, share with your family and friends via your social media channels and join the campaign to “Just Say No” to crime, drugs and gangs. For more information about the LAPD Centurions and their efforts, visit Lapdbaseballteam.com.

We invite you to share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

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Quentin Tarantino, take two

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 11/05/2015 @ 05:10 PM

Quentin Tarantino says his recent anti-cop rant was misunderstood, but he stands by what he said. And he won’t take back his outrageous and dangerous slur against police officers as “murderers.”

According to the Los Angeles Times, Tarantino, whose films are well-known for their often violent content, was “really happy” to join an anti-police demonstration in New York, while flags flew at half-staff for an NYPD officer who had recently been killed in the line of duty while he chased an armed career criminal. But any misunderstanding, to him, is on us.

Tarantino may feel misunderstood, but make no mistake. He is a highly talented and accomplished screenwriter who knew exactly what he was doing in joining the demonstration and condemning police officers. He has won multiple Academy Awards and Golden Globes. He surely understands that words have meaning. He surely realizes how his presence at such a rally would come across as grossly insensitive, with a recent NYPD officer slain on duty.

But he won’t apologize. In fact, he feels he’s under attack. He’s the one being demonized. He’s the one critics are trying to intimidate and discredit.

Disorder and disturbance, much like you see in many of his films, are what Tarantino’s remarks incite.

Whatever Tarantino believes about the intent of his statements during that rally, the fact remains that his comments are fueling anti-police sentiment and increasing the growing divisive gap that police nationwide are sensing between them and the public that relies on them daily to respond in times of trouble and maintain public safety.

Tarantino is now feeling the heat. His father, who grew up in New York, says his son is “dead wrong” in his characterization of police officers as murderers, and the Weinstein Company, producer of Tarantino’s next film, is reportedly looking for a way to clean up his mess.

Meanwhile, the list of law enforcement organizations joining the boycott of Tarantino’s films is growing across the nation every day with police unions in Chicago, Philadelphia, New Jersey and Orange County adding their memberships to the movement. Those organizations joined in the wake of the National Association of Police Organizations’ call for officers to stop working special assignments or off-duty jobs that provide security for any of Tarantino’s projects.

Tarantino says he has a First Amendment right to speak his mind. He certainly does. And we have an obligation to shout him down and we have a duty speak up for our dedicated and selfless fellow officers.

We invite you to share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

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Boycott Tarantino: Director callously calls cops murderers days after officer is gunned down

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 10/28/2015 @ 10:10 AM

The anti-police rhetoric perpetuated throughout society the past year has often bordered on hysteria. However, film director Quentin Tarantino took it to a new and completely unacceptable level this past weekend.

During an anti-police march in New York, Tarantino flatly referred to police as murderers. It is worth noting that he made these remarks just four days after New York Police Officer Randolph Holder was murdered when a gunman opened fire on him and his partner. Furthermore, NYPD officers cleared a path for the demonstrators and stood their posts while Tarantino vilified them. We suspect he appreciated the uniformed presence in New York, as he does when officers—many times LAPD officers—provide security during the filming of his movies in and around Los Angeles.

His unconscionable comments prompted New York police and union leaders to immediately call Tarantino out. Commissioner Bill Bratton, noting the timing of Tarantino’s hateful remarks, said there were “no words to describe the contempt I have for him and his comments.” Union President Patrick Lynch said it’s time to “send a message to this purveyor of degeneracy” by boycotting his films.

We fully agree with both Bratton and Lynch and support this boycott.

There is no excuse for police brutality or mistreatment of the citizens. We’re sworn to protect and serve.

The laser-like focus over the past year on isolated cases of perceived police wrongdoing, and utterly irresponsible rhetoric by individuals such as Tarantino, threaten the safety of police and citizens alike.

It’s well accepted that dehumanizing a specific group of people, as Tarantino did, encourages attacks against them. Indeed, FBI statistics show ambush attacks are accounting for an increasing number of police officer murders. Of the 36 such attacks over the past decade, seven occurred in 2014 alone, including the double ambush of two NYPD officers in December.

There is also increasing evidence that the cacophony of police criticism has helped spark a surge in violent crime in cities nationwide. Officers have reported that they have avoided getting out of their patrol cars and making stops because of the “Ferguson effect”—a fear that their legitimate actions will be recorded and misrepresented on social media to make them appear to be out-of-control thugs. FBI Director James Comey, in a speech last week, stated that “a chill wind (has been) blowing through American law enforcement over the last year. And that wind is surely changing behavior.”

Calling cops murderers might help a privileged member of Hollywood’s elite assuage his liberal guilt, and even get some like-minded people to go see his violence-drenched movies. But if you stand on the side of decency, law and order—and value law enforcement officers who risk their lives while performing their daily duties—please join us in boycotting Tarantino’s films.

We fully support constructive dialogue about how law enforcement officers interact with citizens. But there is no place for hateful and inflammatory rhetoric that makes police officers even bigger targets that they already are—and threatens public safety at the same time.

We invite you to share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

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A closer look at mental illness in Los Angeles

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 10/22/2015 @ 04:04 PM

We wrote in our previous blog post about the number of mentally ill individuals, many of them homeless, on Los Angeles streets and the impact on LAPD officers. We pointed out that, in the minds of many officers, the police are not equipped to deal with those who cannot understand or deal with authority and whose behavior may be erratic or threatening to these officers and others. Some of these difficult situations have unfortunately led to officer-involved shootings.

It was always our intention to follow up on that overview blog with more information about the Department’s efforts to manage the situation. We are further motivated after hearing from several of our officers who work with the mentally ill to tell the story of the great work they do every day.

It’s well-documented that support for the mentally ill in our society has declined over the years and that a significant number of the homeless living on our streets are mentally ill. When they cause a disturbance in the community, the police are the first to be called.

This is not a new issue for Los Angeles, and the LAPD has been working for years to provide help and resources for the mentally ill to provide appropriate response and treatment—and prevent situations involving the use of force. The LAPD’s Mental Evaluation Unit was one of the first of its kind, leading the nation in law enforcement response to mentally ill suspects, and inspiring several similar programs throughout the country. The LAPD has made mental health training and addressing mental health concerns a priority for over a decade. Through three programs, System Wide Mental Assessment Response Team (SMART), Case Assessment Management Program (CAMP), and Mental Health Intervention Training (MHIT) provided by the Mental Evaluation Training Detail, LAPD officers are able to address a great percentage of mental health issues in the community through joint working, long-term problem solving and enhanced initial response to help prevent officer-involved shootings with mentally ill suspects.

SMART promotes collaboration between officers and mental health professionals by having a representative from each side responding to mental health incidents. The mental health professionals help officers to respond appropriately based on the needs of the suspect and make sure the suspect is taken to the appropriate place of care. CAMP creates long-term change by focusing on solving problems before they start. The CAMP team helps to make sure mentally ill individuals are referred to the appropriate supporting agencies and helps to manage criminal offenses and ongoing risk. One example of this program involved a mother of a mentally ill person who called 911 because she could not leave her child at home alone and needed to pick up the medicine that her child badly needed. The CAMP team helped deliver the medicine and resolved a situation that could have turned hostile.

Through the Mental Evaluation Unit, the LAPD has trained nearly 250 officers in the four-day Mental Health Intervention Training (MHIT) course, which is being delivered twice each deployment period since being CA-POST certified, and almost 7,000 in crisis communications and de-escalation training. Together, the three programs have created a strategy to develop relationships between law enforcement, mental health professionals and advocacy groups in order to build a more successful mental health initiative for Los Angeles. In fact, the percent of incidents resulting in use of force involving persons suffering from a mental illness are low. Only 3 percent of all mental health crisis contacts result in uses of force (380 NCUOF out of 13,800 calls). We believe this percentage is so low because officers are properly managing mental health-related crisis calls. They are taking their time and using effective de-escalation techniques to stop problems before they start and minimize the need for use of force.

While these programs are extremely beneficial to the community, officers have struggled to work with limited resources and funding. That is why we were happy to see the City step up and help us further train our officers. The new preservation of life training will be extremely beneficial to officers in various roles to help identify and de-escalate situations involving mentally ill suspects. Additionally, the implementation of housing for the homeless population and the creation of a jail for mentally ill inmates will help to keep the homeless off the street and to get them the help that they need. We hope these programs will help prevent dangerous situations from happening to themselves and others.

However, despite extensive training and new resources, the problems of homelessness and mental illness are vast, and the public must understand that situations may still arise when an officer’s sense of threat and imminent mortal danger may rise to a level in which the use of lethal force is justified. This is not desirable, and we do whatever we can to avoid such situations. Police officers make every effort to diffuse volatile situations, employ non-lethal force, and treat mentally ill individuals with care. The LAPD is constantly collaborating with the City, the Fire Department and other civic groups to better address the behavior of disturbed individuals. However, in those incidents in which hard core resistance occurs, officers have been charged with a duty to protect the public and themselves. When any individual, for whatever reason, threatens the life of another, the police are trained to use force to protect themselves and the public. We are grateful that these instances are increasingly rare thanks to the LAPD’s many efforts.

We invite you to share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

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ACLU appeals to DOJ regarding body-worn camera funding

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 09/08/2015 @ 12:59 PM

The recent debate over the implementation of body cameras for police officers has exposed some clear divisions over the intended use of the video footage. Is it to provide an additional perspective to document events relating to criminal activity by recording the officer’s viewpoint and the witnesses’ live statements? Or, is it a “gotcha” tool, designed to try to “catch” officers in wrongdoing?

It is our belief that police body-worn cameras are a tool to document events relating to criminal activity and to enhance law enforcement officers’ ability to document critical incidents. They help keep officers and civilians safe, as the video footage will provide more detailed courtroom testimony, helping to convict violent criminals and discredit false testimonies. Body-worn cameras ensure mutual accountability among both officers and civilians.

We strongly disagree with those who feel that video footage should be released for public viewing. During an on-going criminal case, police reports are not released to the public as not to compromise the integrity of the investigation and trial.

Not everyone agrees with this approach. Some citizens and advocacy groups want to use the tapes as a tool to “catch” police officers in wrongdoing. The ACLU has made their opinion clear in an 11-page letter to the Justice Department, citing their “deep reservations,” after its demands on how the videos should be handled were not accepted by the Los Angeles Police Commission. The ACLU not only demanded that body camera videos be released to the public, but also that officers not be allowed to view the footage before writing their police reports. Having not gotten their way, the ACLU is now calling on the United States Department of Justice to reject a City of Los Angeles request for grant funds to buy body cameras.

It is ironic that the ACLU is appealing to the Department of Justice to deny funds for body cameras. It is the Department of Justice that recommended that police officers should be allowed to review body camera footage before writing reports. The Department of Justice’s opinion, which we share, is that officers reviewing their body camera footage leads to accurate recollection of events. In an October 2014 article titled, “Implementing a Body-Worn Camera Program: Recommendations and Lessons Learned,” the United States Department of Justice said, “Officers should be permitted to review video footage of an incident in which they were involved prior to making a statement about the incident. Reviewing footage aids officer recollection and leads to more accurate documentation of events. Real-time recording is considered best evidence and is unaffected by stress or other factors.”

Los Angeles Police Commissioner Steve Soboroff got it right when he characterized the ACLU request as “sour grapes.” While we are sure our friends at the ACLU are gravely disappointed that they will not be able to use body camera video footage as “gotcha” tools, we believe that the Los Angeles Police Commission policy will yield useful evidence for evaluation and prosecution of criminal cases.

We invite you to share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

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Time is running out to stop parole of two cop killers

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 09/03/2015 @ 02:59 PM

SDPD Officer Archie Buggs

SDPD Officer Archie Buggs

LAPD Det. Thomas Williams

LAPD Det. Thomas Williams

A strong precedent needs to be set for those who murder peace officers and create an imbalance in our society. The recent alarming attacks on law enforcement officers nationwide are a prime example of what happens when the consequences for murdering a peace officer slowly begin to fade away.

On Tuesday, August 4, Voltaire Williams CDC# E17796, just a year after being denied parole again, has been considered for parole by the CDCR, after his conviction in the murder of LAPD Detective Thomas Williams, according to Luis Patino, a state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokesman.

On Friday, August 28, Jesus Cecena CDR# C08487, also just a year after being denied parole by Governor Brown, has been considered for parole by a state parole board, after his conviction in the murder of SDPD Officer Archie Buggs. Cecena had been denied parole 13 times before.

The Los Angeles Police Protective League (LAPPL), which represents the almost 10,000 rank-and-file officers of the LAPD, vehemently opposes the release of murderers Williams and Cecena.

We implore Governor Brown to reverse any decision by the parole board to free Williams and Cecena and keep these brutal killers behind bars for the public good.

Please help us and send the message that the killing of a law enforcement officer is the ultimate violation of public safety and should result in the forfeiture of the assailant’s freedom for life. Public safety must come first!

On behalf of the almost 10,000 LAPD officers who protect and serve Los Angeles, the LAPPL has already sent in letters for both Williams and Cecena to Governor Brown, but it’s going to take more people speaking up to keep these cop killers out of our communities.

Time is of the essense so if you haven’t already, please take a minute to call the governor’s office at (916) 445-2841 or email the governor at govnews.ca.gov/gov39mail/mail.php. You can also write to him at:

Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.
Attention: LEGAL
State Capitol, Suite 1173
Sacramento, California 95814
Voltaire Williams CDC No. E17796 and Jesus Cecena CDR No. C08487*
(*If you choose to email the governor, please include this identifying information.)

We only have limited time to convince the governor to reverse these travesties of justice, so please call and send your emails or letters soon. Thank you for helping us keep public safety first.

We invite you to share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

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