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Everyone’s privacy is important, including police officers’

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 03/08/2016 @ 08:59 AM

Some misguided politicians and anti-cop activist groups are pushing a proposed new law, SB 1286, authored by State Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), to strip away the privacy protections from California police officers, sheriffs’ and highway patrolmen, which has been in place for almost 40 years. Why? Because they think providing confidential information contained in an officer’s personnel file will increase trust between the community and law enforcement. It’s nonsense and the Los Angeles Police Protective League (LAPPL) is opposed and will fight this dangerous proposal.

Senator Leno’s bill is a solution in search of a problem. Currently, police officers are held accountable in California when they violate their respective department’s policies or the law. In Los Angeles, the civilian Police Commission reviews incidents where officers use force and determines if that force was within policy. Also in Los Angeles, a civilian representative sits on the Police Department’s “Board of Rights” disciplinary panel. This panel holds police officers accountable when found guilty of violating Department policy. Lastly, any police officer who is accused of committing a criminal act, working as a police officer, faces potential criminal prosecution with an enhanced charge known as “under the color of authority.”

SB 1286 will not hold more police officers “accountable.” It will not make punishments for breaking the law under the color of authority sterner. It certainly will not do anything to satisfy the concerns of vocal anti-police activists.

So what will SB 1286 do? It will make trial attorneys a whole lot of money as they seek every bit of information contained in a police officer’s personnel file so they can inflate the amount they seek to settle litigation against public agencies. It will make it easier for activist groups to cherry-pick and sensationalize information in an officer’s personnel file to add fuel to political fires. It will invade the privacy rights that virtually every other employee is guaranteed by the State and Federal Constitution. Building trust is the last thing this ill-conceived bill will do.

SB 1286 is a dishonest and dangerous attempt to kowtow to vocal anti-cop activists. Activists that apparently only protest when there is an officer-involved shooting or use-of-force incident. We didn’t see extended protests when one-year old Autumn Johnson was gunned down in her crib in Compton. Cars were not set on fire and rioting did not occur when Maria Cordova, an expecting mother, was murdered in Boyle Heights. Last week, the LAPD informed us that over a 14-day period there were 14 homicides, 104 shootings and 53 gunshot victims. Violent crime was up 12.2 percent year-to-date. That’s over last year’s already escalated rate. Where is the outrage over these incidents?

The bill’s supporters wrongly lump all Californians into the same category as the most vocal activists in terms of lack of trust in law enforcement. Don’t believe the hype. The reality is that everyday we see firsthand the support we have in the communities we patrol. What residents want, quite simply, is to be safe in their neighborhoods and have the police respond as quickly and effectively as possible when needed.

What’s ironic is that many of the same activists pushing SB 1286 are simultaneously waging a national battle to protect the privacy of the mass shooter from San Bernardino. Yes, let anyone from the public access a police officer’s private personnel file, but do not let our counterterrorism experts access a terrorist’s iPhone. SB 1286 is a solution in search of a problem.

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

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Help Keep a Convicted Cop Killer Behind Bars

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 02/29/2016 @ 03:54 PM

LAPD Officer Daniel Pratt

Keeping our communities safe should be our top priority, and that must include the safety of Los Angeles police officers. Convicted cop murderer Raylene Brooks CDC #W40103 is once again up for parole and we need your help to keep this killer behind bars.

Please email the Parole Board and tell them to keep Raylene Brooks CDC #W40103 behind bars. Please send letters opposing this parole to:

Board of Parole Hearings
Attn: Pre-Hearing Correspondence
Post Office Box 4036
Sacramento, CA 95812-4036

The Los Angeles Police Protective League (LAPPL) has sent letters of opposition to the California Department of Corrections Board of Parole Hearings, but we need everyone to speak out. This vicious murderer has not yet fully paid her debt to society and should serve the maximum term of her sentence. We must send a clear message that the murder of peace officers is unacceptable and all who are found guilty must be dealt the harshest possible punishment under the law.

On the night of September 3, 1988, Officer Daniel Pratt and his partner, Officer Veronica Delao Jenkins, were undercover in South Los Angeles when they heard what they thought was gunfire. They then encountered the headlights of the car that, just minutes before, had been involved in a gang-related drive-by shooting, leaving three people wounded. Upon pursuit, Brooks made an abrupt U-turn and headed toward the officers. Brooks’ then boyfriend, Kirkton Moore, opened fire on Officer Pratt, striking and killing him instantly. As the driver of the car involved in the shooting, Brooks was convicted of first-degree murder of a peace officer.

Officer Pratt is survived by his wife, Andria; daughters, Amanda and Heather; and sons, Danny Jr. and Nicholas. Also surviving him are his parents, Joyce and Roy Pratt Sr., four brothers, three sisters, and a host of other loved ones.

We must come together, law enforcement and community, and send a clear message that we will never forget the murder of a peace officer, no matter how much time has passed. As we did in our letter, so we ask you to tell the Parole Board that Brooks must not be granted parole and that we expect her to receive the harshest possible punishment under the law.

Brooks’ parole hearing date is on May 16, 2016, so we’re asking for your help to keep public safety first and protest the parole for this convicted murderer. Please send your letters to the Parole Board opposing parole for Raylene Brooks, inmate CDC #W40103 to:

Board of Parole Hearings
Attn: Pre-Hearing Correspondence
Post Office Box 4036
Sacramento, CA 95812-4036

You can also email the Board of Parole Hearings at BPH.CorrespondenceUnit@cdcr.ca.gov.

Please note that your letters and/or emails must be received two weeks prior for the Parole Board to consider them, so please send your letters soon.

Make your voices heard and prevent these hardened murderers from being released back into society.

We will never forget.

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

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Chief Beck Squashes Dissent

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 02/15/2016 @ 01:11 PM

There has been much speculation about the recent NBC4 Investigative story about the Metro Unit that aired this past Friday evening. The speculation has swirled around whether the officers depicted in the story should have gone public with their concerns over a lack of training and equipment for the mission they have been assigned and over the identity of the officers.

Let us state for the record, we don’t care who the officers are. What we care about is what they said. What we care about is the culture created in our department that would compel any officer to go public with these serious concerns for fear that their concerns would fall on deaf ears or fear retaliation for expressing their concerns.

We watched the story and waited for Chief Beck to say, “These are serious concerns and any time an officer in my command feels the department has fallen short in ensuring they have the training and equipment to keep them safe I am going to make sure I rectify the problem.” But that’s not what Chief Beck said.

Or Chief Beck could have said, “I am going to look into these accusations and if they are true I am going to hold folks accountable and I will get these officers the training and equipment they need. Thank you for bringing this to my attention.” But he didn’t say that either.

The story showed Chief Beck exhibiting a cavalier attitude about officers expressing a desire for more training and safety equipment, such as body armor. The Chief’s solution, bring me your concerns and I will re-assign you. Talk about a chilling effect on anyone wanting to improve the department or protect the public.

An inclusive and collaborative leader should reward those willing to get out of their lane and identify problems before they get worse, a leader should welcome information to improve the likelihood of police officers making it home at their EOW.

Chief Beck sent the wrong message. Period.

The command staff is scurrying around trying to figure out who went on camera instead of scurrying through the Metropolitan Division to determine if they did all they could to equip and train those they send into harm’s way.

The League will act on the information revealed in the NBC story and we are saddened that it took a news story to expose the culture created by some in the command staff that would rather have everyone just go along to get along.

The League also stands ready to work with the department, city elected officials, and the officers of the Metropolitan Division to ensure they are equipped and trained to do their jobs as safely as possible. We owe it to them to advocate for immediate changes. The League will also work toward a cultural shift within our department, one that welcomes criticism, encourages differing points of view and fosters an environment where speaking up to improve our operations is celebrated.

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

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Help keep deputy killer behind bars

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 02/03/2016 @ 10:00 AM

Convicted murderer Kien Vinh Ly CDCR# E57469, who killed Los Angeles County Marshal Henry Wong on September 2, 1988, is up for parole and we need your help to keep this killer behind bars. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Board of Parole is considering advancing his parole hearing to an earlier date.

Please email BPH.CorrespondenceUnit@cdcr.ca.gov and tell the Board of Parole Hearings to keep Kien Vinh Ly CDCR# E57469 behind bars. You must act by Sunday, February 7, 2016.

Deputy Wong’s surviving widow and brother, along with the Los Angeles Police Protective League (LAPPL), vehemently oppose the release of Kien Vinh Ly. We implore the Board of Parole Hearings to keep this brutal killer behind bars for his heinous act of violence.

The LAPPL, which represents nearly 10,000 rank-and-file officers of the LAPD, is strongly opposed to the release of deputy killer Kien Vinh Ly. Deputy Wong was working off-duty as a security guard at an Alhambra restaurant when he was confronted by Ly and ordered Ly out of the restaurant for creating a disturbance and threatening patrons. As the restaurant was closing just before 2 a.m., Ly returned and shot Wong in the head. Deputy Wong was the first deputy county marshal to be shot to death on or off-duty in the history of the Los Angeles County Marshal’s Department.

Please do your part and help block the release of this murderer. Killing or attempted 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.

You can email the Board of Parole Hearings at BPH.CorrespondenceUnit@cdcr.ca.gov or mail a letter to:

Attn: Administrative Review
Board of Parole Hearings
Pre-Hearing Analysis Unit
Post Box 4036
Sacramento, CA 95812-4036

We only have until Sunday, February 7, 2016 to email or send letters to the Board of Parole Hearings. Please act quickly.

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

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Why Chief Beck failed us

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 01/13/2016 @ 04:34 PM

Impartial. Unbiased. Fair. Chief Charlie Beck clearly forgot the meaning of those words. Those words should guide every investigation conducted by a law enforcement agency or a District Attorney’s Office. Whether it’s an investigation of an officer-involved shooting or an investigation of a resident who is accused of committing a crime, all parties, including the community we serve, deserve an impartial, unbiased and fair review of all the facts and evidence. Period.

On Monday, Chief Beck chose to put politics above fairness by shouting from the rooftops to every media outlet in the nation that the District Attorney should file criminal charges against LAPD Officer Clifford Proctor.

This is not standard procedure. This is not how this Chief has conducted himself in the past on previous officer-involved shootings. Attempting to unduly influence the elected District Attorney’s independent investigation and her decision is wrong.

The Los Angeles Police Protective League does not know if Officer Proctor’s use of force was justified or what was in his mind at the time or leading up to the incident in question. We do not have access to the evidence in this case. But that, however, is not the point. Everyone deserves to have his or her fate determined by a fair and complete investigation. Everyone.

On Monday, the LAPPL issued the following statement to the media regarding Chief Beck’s actions, and we stand by it:

"When an officer feels compelled to discharge their weapon in the line-of-duty, it warrants a thorough and complete investigation, especially when a life is lost. In all officer-involved shootings, the District Attorney’s Office closely monitors the investigation. DA investigators are on scene immediately following an incident. The DA then makes an independent decision based on the facts as to whether or not a prosecution is warranted.

Chief Beck should stop trying to unduly influence the outcome of this decision, or compromise its objectivity in any manner. It's unfortunate that Chief Beck has chosen to politically grandstand in the media instead of allowing this process to conclude and the District Attorney to make her independent decision. As such, we encourage facts, and not Chief Beck’s rhetoric, to be what guides the District Attorney’s ultimate decision on this matter."

In the past, when Chief Beck felt that an officer shouldn’t be charged following an investigation, he did not go public before the DA’s Office completed their review. What changed?

Chief Beck is very media savvy. He made a political calculation. He knew that by going public, he could effectively wash his hands of the matter. While that may demonstrate political expediency, it does not demonstrate leadership. Leadership means that sometimes you have to do the unpopular thing in order to do the right thing.

There’s a misconception that police officers expect their chiefs to back them no matter what the facts may show. Nothing could be further from the truth. What police officers expect, however, is that while we are doing a job that is inherently dangerous, our leaders ensure that we are treated fairly if we are ever accused of doing something wrong.

Chief Beck failed us all.

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

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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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