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Commission got it wrong

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 06/11/2015 @ 03:45 PM

Steve Soboroff at the Los Angeles Police Commission meeting on June 9, 2015.

Steve Soboroff at the Los Angeles Police Commission meeting on June 9, 2015.

Since August we, along with the entire Los Angeles community, have been following the investigation of the Ezell Ford officer-involved shooting and awaiting the determinations made by Chief Beck, the Inspector General and the Police Commission.

In these reviews it was clear to us that what was found was that all of the DNA, all of the independent witnesses interviewed and all of the officers’ statements attained supported the notion that Ford attempted to take an officer’s weapon. As soon as Ford went for the officer’s weapon, he immediately escalated the situation, forcing the officers to make the decision they did in order to protect themselves and those around them. In any instance where an officer has his or her weapon attempted to be taken from them, the officer is trained to assume that the only reason the suspect is doing so is to use it against the officer or an innocent bystander. This decision was rooted in years of off- and on-duty trainings where simulations exactly like this one are played out in great detail. In short, regardless of the circumstances or what may have led up to the events, a suspect reached for an officer’s weapon and the officer reacted in the manner he was trained to do.

After reviewing the facts of the case and relying on his more than 40 years of experience as a law enforcement officer, Chief Beck determined that the officers were justified in opening fire as the suspect attempted to take one of their guns. The Board of Directors and League attorneys reached the same conclusion and such, publicly announced our support of the Chief.

Surprisingly, the Police Commission, who was privy to the same facts as Chief Beck, came away with a different conclusion. It unanimously reached a finding that left many, including the LAPPL, scratching their heads and wondering how the Commission could let the usual protesters and external political forces influence their decision on this extremely important matter. Beyond being self-serving, the decision was downright irresponsible and has the potential to put the officers that protect this city at risk by signaling to criminals that it is OK to reach for an officer’s weapon depending on the situation.

The Commission got this wrong. Instead of focusing on the multiple forms of hard evidence, including the fact that Ford was a known gang member with a lengthy criminal history of violent crimes, the Commission cited and stretched thin the “objectively reasonable” standard established in the 1989 U.S. Supreme Court case of Graham v. Connor. A standard that the court later noted should not be the primary driver determination, noting that “reasonableness must embody allowance for the fact that police officers are often forced to make split-second judgments—in circumstances that are tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving—about the amount of force that is necessary in a particular situation.”

This is not the first time we have disagreed with the Commission, nor will it likely be the last. That said, there have been plenty of instances where we have agreed, even on some use of force issues in the past. We take every case as it comes and examine the facts before determining our official position, regardless of where the Commission, Chief or Inspector General stand. Recently, law enforcement has captured the nation’s attention, and all eyes are on us; however, all law enforcement leadership needs to focus on the facts at hand and not on outside pressures when making determinations that seriously affect public and officers’ safety.

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

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In Honor of National Police Week

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 05/15/2015 @ 02:00 PM

This week, the League and officers around the country came together to honor and remember our fallen officers for National Police Week. This meaningful week was established by a joint resolution of Congress in 1962, and has since occurred annually on the week in which May 15, Peace Officers Memorial Day, falls.

National Police Week pays special recognition to those law enforcement officers who have paid the ultimate sacrifice and laid down their lives for the safety and protection of others. Each year, thousands of police officers travel to Washington, D.C. to participate in events hosted by National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, Fraternal Order of Police and Concerns of Police Survivors.

This year, over 25,000 attendees from departments throughout the United States participated, coming together to experience a common bond, mourn a shared loss and discuss issues that affect police work on a national level. Officers partook in a variety of events including: the Police Unity Tour Arrival Ceremony, celebrating the nearly $16 million raised for the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial and Museum since 1997; the 27th Annual Candlelight Vigil, a ceremony in remembrance of those who have died; the Fraternal Order of Police DC Lodge #1 Events, a two-day outdoor networking event; the National Police Survivors Conference and C.O.P.S. Kids/Teens, an opportunity for family members and co-workers of fallen officers to prepare for trial, build connections, understand grief and receive support; the 13th Annual Steven Young National Honor Guard and Pipe Band Competition and the 21st Annual Emerald Society & Pipe Band March and Service, musical performances in tribute to fallen officers; and the 34th Annual National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service.

The LAPPL sponsors an LAPD contingent to attend both National Police Week and the California memorial ceremonies each year. The 2015 California Memorial Ceremony took place May 3 and 4, and honored 18 fallen California officers. We at the League were honored to be a part of these memorials.

These ceremonies were especially important this year, as police have faced new challenges and increased risks. In 2014, the number of law enforcement officers nationwide killed in the line of duty increased to a startling 126 officers, including LAPD officers Christopher Cortijo, Nicholas Lee and Roberto Sanchez. Of those 126 tragic deaths, 50 were the result of firearms, compared to 32 in 2013.

From New York to Baltimore, to Mississippi to our own backyard in Los Angeles, violent acts have garnered national media attention and increased tension between civilians and officers across the country. Officers have been faced with riots, protests, attacks and ambushes from the civilians they have sworn to protect. As we reflect upon the meaning of National Police Week, it is important to remember that all lives matter. We mourn all lives lost due to violence, and support our officers wholeheartedly as they work to prevent these acts of violence and get those responsible off the streets.

The Board of Directors and League staff would like to take a moment to thank our officers for their dedication and sacrifice to help keep our community safe. We cherish and honor the memories of our fallen officers by continuing to speak up for the rights, safety and best interest of our officers. We are so inspired by the great work you do every day, and are so honored to represent you.

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

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Violent Crimes Targeting Cops – Does the Public Care?

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 05/12/2015 @ 02:00 PM

Over the past few weeks, there have been a number of violent events and public demonstrations that have dominated news coverage in outlets across the nation. Our thoughts and prayers go out to those communities as they look to rebuild. It should go without saying that the officers protecting the citizens in those cities are facing an incredible challenge – we encourage them to be ever vigilant as they try to keep the streets safe. In Los Angeles, we are all aware of the dangers we face every day as we work to fulfill our duty to protect and serve our communities, and have asked our own members to take special care, particularly in this time of heightened tension.

Unfortunately, the riots and protests have fueled a much larger issue – violent crimes targeted directly at police officers. Just in the month of May, the same month we acknowledge and honor fallen police officers nationwide, the country has seen a total of four officers ambushed and killed while on duty. All of us at the LAPPL extend our deepest condolences to our brothers and sisters in the Hattiesburg Police Department for the recent terrible tragedy that has taken the lives of two of their officers. Our hearts, thoughts and prayers go out to the families of Officers Benjamin Deen and Liquori Tate. Sadly, this tragedy occurred the same day as the funeral of fallen Coeur d’Alene Police Sgt. Greg Moore, and just one day after the funeral of fallen NYPD Officer Brian Moore. Both officers were fatally shot in the head while on duty.

These disgusting acts of violence that are taking officers’ lives are becoming a regular occurrence. It seems like every few weeks we hear of another officer who has been murdered in cold blood, yet we have heard very little outcry from the public. How is it possible that the citizens in these communities are not outraged? Their protectors have bull’s-eyes on their backs and no one seems to care. We simply cannot stand for these horrendous acts of violence, and urge the public and media to demand swift justice for these fallen officers just as they would for a civilian life. Something must be done – police officers are serving to protect and instead are being killed on the streets.

This is a terribly sad time for police officers and departments across the country, and the law enforcement community bows its head in mourning. But that is not enough, and we cannot fight this fight alone. While we will continue to attend officer funeral after officer funeral, it must be on the public to raise enough attention and concern in their local communities to ensure that officers around the country are protected.

If officers continue to be consciously targeted and murdered in cold blood and little to nothing changes in the eyes of the public, what will happen? What have we as a society become?

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

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Misperception of safety personnel and workers' compensation

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 04/07/2015 @ 02:12 PM

Recent Los Angeles Times articles have attacked L.A. police and fire departments for the high cost of workers’ compensation. These articles focus on an audit conducted by the City controller that alleges that the City’s public safety personnel take paid injury leave at significantly higher rates than other public safety employees throughout the state.

These articles consistently fail to include important facts and challenges faced by safety personnel who are injured on duty. First, the Times criticizes the benefits paid at 100 percent of salary that are received by injured safety personnel. The policy is portrayed as archaic, dating back to the Great Depression, and taken advantage of by safety personnel who would rather stay at home with full pay than return to duty. This misinformed view does a disservice to the brave men and women who serve our great City.

Just as when the law was implemented during the Great Depression, full benefits for injured safety personnel incentivizes a single and specific goal: the protection of life and property at all costs. When an officer is injured on duty, he or she is made whole and appreciated by the community because the officer gave his or her all to the community. The men and women of the LAPD accept this as fact, citizens of Los Angeles expect this from police officers, and it is both improper and disheartening to know that the City views its officers with suspicion. While there are those who would abuse this benefit, our culture is not centered on fraudulent and mundane workers’ compensation claims—our culture focuses on serving the community.

The Times’ second error is its failure to address the systematic delay tactics employed by the City in authorizing needed medical treatment. Officers wait months for even the simplest of medical care. This delays recovery and in turn requires unnecessary payment of injury benefits. Nobody wins in this scenario. Not only is there additional cost to taxpayers, but no officer desires to wait months for treatment. No officer prefers the headache and bureaucracy of workers’ compensation over returning to duty. But when treatment is not timely, the choice is to either continue paying benefits or to return the officer back to duty when he or she is not fully healed. This choice puts the officer, his or her fellow officers and the community at unacceptable risk.

Finally, the Times failed to acknowledge that officers in Los Angeles face hardships that officers in other California cities do not experience. Compared to the same period last year, violent crime in Los Angeles has increased 27 percent, shootings increased 31 percent and poverty crime increased 12 percent. To make matters worse, the LAPD is already understaffed by almost 2,000 officers, per capita, when compared to other cities.

The League stands by its officers wholeheartedly. The men and women of the LAPD suffer genuine injuries, and the majority of these injuries receive inadequate or untimely care. The vast majority of officers do not create a culture meant to manipulate the benefits they receive. They seek to recover and get back on duty as soon as possible. The misinformed criticism levied by the Times injures not only the officers it accuses, but the community at large, as treatment and benefits are restricted more and more in the face of scathing media and cost-cutting bureaucrats. The City expects the finest Police Department; our officers deserve the finest benefits in return.

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

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Hit-and-Run Alert System

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 03/26/2015 @ 04:55 PM

A driver involved in a hit-and-run crash in Koreatown is seen running away from the scene in this photo taken by a witness at the scene of the crash.

A driver involved in a hit-and-run crash in Koreatown is seen running away from the scene in this photo taken by a witness at the scene of the crash.

It is a grim fact, but Los Angeles is known as the hit-and-run capital of the nation. Recently, hit-and-runs in Koreatown and USC have severely injured innocent citizens, causing permanent damage to the victims. Rarely does a week go by that we do not see a hit-and-run occur in Los Angeles.

In the past year alone, 27 people have been killed and more than 144 have been seriously injured as result of hit-and-run crashes. While at the national level only 11 percent of drivers flee the scene of a crash, in Los Angeles, the statistic is nearly 50 percent. This should be considered an epidemic in our city that affects the entire community. Last month, the LAPD, the Department of Transportation and City officials announced a new citywide alert system for hit-and-runs. This system will greatly benefit the citizens of Los Angeles and increase public safety. By alerting citizens to suspect and vehicle information, Angelinos can protect themselves, be on the lookout for the perpetrator and know the proper channels to report any information they may have to authorities. Drivers will also be discouraged to flee the scene of an accident, knowing that if they do, their description will be broadcast throughout the city, increasing the likelihood that they will be arrested.

The alert system will harness the City’s combined resources including social media, Nixle and NotifyLA text message alert system, as well as reach private companies such as taxis, Metro and rideshare companies to communicate these messages throughout the City. Additionally, the City is setting up a reward system to incentivize witnesses to step forward with evidence to help officers identify and apprehend criminals.

Hit-and-runs are only one of the many challenges LAPD officers face every day. Challenges that require the hard work, dedication and resources of the best and most highly-trained police force in the nation. Currently, the LAPD solves only 20 percent of hit-and-run cases.

This alert system is a step in the right direction. We are encouraged by City officials and the City Council for recognizing this and providing the LAPD with this new system, which will be another tool in officers’ belts to use to fight crime and protect the citizens of Los Angeles.

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

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When unarmed becomes armed

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 03/04/2015 @ 04:14 PM

In the immediate aftermath of the Los Angeles Police Department officer-involved shooting this past Sunday, March 1, 2015, the Los Angeles Times posted an article by an “unnamed writer” who wondered, “What guidelines govern how officers behave in situations like the one that occurred Sunday…?” Our answer is, if a person takes or attempts to take an officer’s gun — no matter their motivation or mental state — they should expect that officers may resort to the use of force and justifiably, deadly force. An officer who hesitates, for whatever reason, is likely to end up seriously injured or even dead.

The tragic case of West Covina Police Officer Ken Wrede is often used in officer training to illustrate this point. On August 31, 1983, Officer Wrede was flagged down by a citizen reporting an intoxicated person. Upon contact with the man, Michael Anthony Jackson, a physical altercation ensued which ended with Officer Wrede returning to his patrol car. The tragic outcome was laid out in 2009 by the California Supreme Court in upholding Jackson’s death sentence:

“Officer Wrede ran to the driver's side door of the police vehicle and defendant ran to the opposite side of the vehicle, opened the passenger side door and grabbed a shotgun that was secured in a rack. Officer Wrede broadcast, ‘he’s got my shotgun rack,’ and then pushed defendant and they struggled over the shotgun until defendant ripped the shotgun and the rack from the vehicle. Officer Wrede broadcast, ‘He pulled it out,’ and then pointed his handgun at defendant over the roof of the vehicle. The shotgun was kept in the rack at ‘patrol ready,’ meaning there were four rounds of ammunition in the magazine and the safety was on. To fire the shotgun, the safety must be off and a round must be moved from the magazine to the firing chamber by sliding the pump action. Defendant attempted to load a round into the shotgun by sliding the pump. He pointed the weapon at the victim and appeared to pull the trigger, but the shotgun did not fire. Defendant again tried to load the weapon, which was still in the rack. This time, defendant was able to move the slide and Dunham heard the sound of a load entering the firing chamber of the shotgun. Officer Wrede crouched down behind the vehicle, still pointing his gun at defendant. Defendant then laid the shotgun on the roof of the vehicle and placed his hands on the roof of the vehicle, appearing to give up. Officer Wrede pointed his gun up, above the defendant, and started to walk around the vehicle when defendant picked up the shotgun and shot the officer in the head.”

As we wrote about last year, and according to the FBI, since 2000, at least 57 police officers have been killed by their own weapons, which were taken away and used against them by suspects. So, again, the answer to the unnamed writer in the Times question is simple: if you take or attempt to take an officer's weapon, expect the officer to defend themselves.

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

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The Dangers of Replica Weapons

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 02/19/2015 @ 04:54 PM

Replica handgun regulations have long been a topic of spirited debate across the country; however, recent events have once again brought this issue front and center in Los Angeles. In September, our lawmakers passed regulations (which went into effect in January) limiting the colors which replica weapons can be manufactured in.

Since that time, several recent articles have highlighted this debate, deliberating who should be responsible for identifying a replica weapon, the police or those who carry and possibly intend to use them. Unfortunately, that is not the real problem here. While these regulations have good intentions of saving lives and protecting citizens, what they do not do is protect officers.

As we’ve said before in this debate, replica guns pose a severe threat to public safety, no matter what color they are. What’s to stop a hardened criminal from painting a real weapon the same bright color? Many fully operational firearms are manufactured and disguised in the colors these regulations allow, and guns can be altered aftermarket to look even more like toys. This is an issue our officers already encounter on an all too regular basis. Accordingly, officers must rely on their training and assume any weapon, regardless of the color, is fully loaded and capable of shooting live rounds. Do Angelinos truly want our officers to stand down any time a green or orange weapon is pointed in their direction? Surely not. And we will not. Behind the badge and uniform LAPD officers are somebody’s father, mother, husband, wife, son, daughter, etc., and as peace officers, they have the right and obligation to defend themselves and others in the face of imminent danger. When faced with a life or death situation, an officer cannot waver because the moment doubt enters an officer’s mind, it creates hesitation, leaving themselves and others vulnerable to injury or death.

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 01/06/2015 @ 04:04 PM

Public safety should always come first and that includes the safety of the peacekeepers of Los Angeles. On Friday, February 13, 2015, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s (CDCR) Board of Parole Hearings (BPH) will consider the parole for Raylene Brooks, the driver in the drive-by shooting that killed LAPD Officer Daniel Pratt in 1988.

The League, along with numerous other law enforcement agencies and associations, have sent letters of opposition, but we need everyone to speak out. This vicious murderer has not yet fully paid her debt to society and should receive the maximum term of her sentence. We must send a clear message that murder of police officers is unacceptable and all those who are found guilty must be dealt the harshest possible punishment under the law.

On the night of September 3, 1988, Officer 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 supporters, and send a clear message that we will never forget the murder of a fellow officer, no matter how much time has passed. As we did in our letter, 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.

We’re asking for your help to keep public safety first and protest the parole for this convicted murderer immediately by sending letters to the Parole Board opposing parole for Raylene Brooks, inmate CDC W40103 to:

Board of Parole Hearings
Post Office Box 4036
Sacramento, CA 95812-4036

Please note that your letters 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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