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As the temperature rises, traditionally so does crime

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 07/07/2010 @ 10:05 AM

In Los Angeles, as the summer approaches and the temperature rises, we can expect to see crime rates rise, as well. Homicide is already up (although the current rate is still substantially down from prior years) and we are foreseeing other crimes to increase as well through summer.

The latest COMPSTAT figures show that Los Angeles has had 161 homicides this year. When compared to last year’s 146 homicides during the same period—it indicates a 10.2% increase in murders.

While experts have various theories as to why crime generally increases in the summer, we know that a big factor is that people tend to drink more with hotter temperatures—giving rise to more alcohol-related incidents. We also know that the summer generally means more burglaries, because people are more likely to be out of their houses or on vacation, and tend to leave doors and windows open, making it easier for opportunist criminals to break in.

However, stopping crime in the summer can be as simple as following a few simple rules. Some of the easiest ways to protect yourself and your family include:

  • Locking your doors and turning on some lights at night. The great majority of theft and burglary reports the LAPD takes are the result of unlocked car and home doors.
  • Don't leave valuables in cars, including cell phones, GPS systems, money or other costly items.
  • Join your local LAPD neighborhood crime watch program and make agreements with your neighbors to call the police if you see something unusual.
  • If you’re enjoying the sunshine at the back of the house, make sure the front windows and doors are closed and locked. Likewise, if you’re settling down to watch TV in the front room in the evening, remember to close and lock the back door and windows.

With LAPD officers being pulled from police field work to backfill vacant civilian positions, it’s more important than ever that Los Angeles residents be extra vigilant this summer. Another dramatic impact on our ability to respond to calls for service (and keep crime down) is LAPD having approximately 30 less police cars to cover a city comprising 469 square miles.

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Acting as the city's ambassador

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 07/02/2010 @ 03:52 PM

The recent stories about Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's acceptance of free tickets to entertainment and sporting events, which are now the subject of several investigations, avoids a very important subject that should be discussed: the need for the City of Los Angeles to have a Mayor (no matter who it is) who is dedicated to the economic growth of our community by strengthening existing business, attracting new people to the City and being our ambassador to the world.

In our view, the Mayor would not be doing his job if he were not attending the high-profile events that spotlight our City’s accomplishments. We understand and support all the reporting requirements now in place, but if the issue comes down to money, then the Council should put money in the City budget to pay for the Mayor to attend high-profile events.

In order to keep the City of Los Angeles’ economic engine going, we need our Mayor promoting Los Angeles as a great place to do business and to live. We need to have a Mayor who promotes business development, supports local professional sports teams, works with the business and development community and civic organizations to further economic development and bring jobs to Los Angeles.

While the recent spotlight has been on acceptance of tickets and reporting, we think that the discussion needs to be expanded to the topic of needing a Mayor who will be the leader in creating a vibrant business climate—one that’s accessible, user-friendly and welcoming to all. We believe that part of achieving that goal is being a visible figure on the local, state and national stage.

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Grieving with our CHP colleagues

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 07/01/2010 @ 04:14 PM

Grieving with our CHP colleagues

The entire law enforcement community is reeling from the line of duty deaths of five California Highway Patrol officers in the last two months. The toll makes 2010 the deadliest year for the CHP in more than a decade. Our hearts and prayers go out to the families, friends and colleagues of these five selfless and dedicated officers who committed their lives to protecting the safety of millions of California residents and visitors.

As with any other law enforcement career, being a CHP officer can be dangerous. Officers provide public safety every day to those who are in need of our assistance whether it’s in a hazardous situation or a controlled environment. The CHP provides the best training available to ensure that the duties of an officer are carried out in the safest way possible, both for the public, as well as the officer. What makes these deaths especially hard to understand is that the officers were doing the right thing. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger summed up the feelings of many when he said, “Each has been a terrible loss for our state, and together they underscore what a dangerous job our CHP officers face every day. We can all help prevent tragedies and save lives by giving our officers space when they are making a traffic stop."

The members of the Los Angeles Police Protective League are united as one as we mourn the loss of these five outstanding officers:

Officer Brett Oswald

Officer Brett Oswald of San Luis Obispo died in the line of duty on June 27. He served as a CHP officer for 20 years. He is survived by his wife, Marlene Oswald; mother, Linda Oswald; and father, Richard Oswald.

Officer Justin McGrory

Officer Justin McGrory of Barstow died in the line of duty on June 27. He served as a CHP officer for nearly three years and is the son of retired CHP Lieutenant Robert McGrory. Officer McGrory is survived by his expectant wife Kelly McGrory; father, Robert McGrory; mother, Jeana McGrory; son Liam (1 year old); stepson, Cade Hamilton (4 years old); and stepdaughter, Erin Hamilton (7 years old).

Officer Philip Ortiz

Officer Philip Ortiz of Los Angeles died in the line of duty on June 22. Officer Ortiz served as a CHP officer for 28 years, including as a motor officer for over 20 years in the West Los Angeles Area. He is survived by his wife, parents, sister and a large extended family.

Officer Thomas P. Coleman

Officer Thomas P. Coleman of San Bernardino Officer died in the line of duty on June 7. He is survived by his wife, two young children, mother, three sisters and brother, LAPD Officer I Mike Loizzi of Devonshire Area.

Officer Daniel Benavides

Officer Daniel Benavides of the Border Division died in the line of duty on May 7. He had served as a CHP officer for more than 13 years. He is survived his wife and their 9-year-old daughter.

Like city policing, patrolling the roads and highways of our state, is a dangerous profession. We hope and pray it will be a very long time before we mourn the loss of any more of our fellow officers, regardless of which agency they belong to.


Memorial funds for Officers Thomas Coleman, Philip Ortiz and Justin McGrory:

Accounts are set up at CAHP Credit Union. Make checks payable to their wives (see below).

Mail checks to:
PO Box 826
San Dimas, CA 91773

Officer Thomas Coleman – Make checks payable to Jamie Coleman

Officer Philip Ortiz – Make checks payable to Jessica Ortiz

Officer Justin McGrory – Make checks payable to Kelly McGrory

Memorial fund for Officer Brett Oswald:

SLO LEAF (Law Enforcement Assistance Foundation) (Identify Officer Oswald in the memo line or on a note with cash) 200 N. Halcyon Rd. Arroyo Grande, CA 93420

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LAPD puts politics over public safety

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 06/17/2010 @ 05:14 PM

Apparently, symbolism instead of public safety is going to be the guiding principle for the City of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Police Department.

In an attempt to pressure the state of Arizona, the City of Los Angeles voted to boycott business with Arizona when it passed Senate Bill 1070 (SB 1070), which addresses illegal immigrants. Several months prior to this City Council action, the Los Angeles Police Department registered four Air Support Division officers to attend the annual Airborne Law Enforcement Association Conference, held at a different location every year. This year’s conference, hosted by the United States Border Patrol in July, will be held in Tucson, Arizona. This conference allows interaction with many other police agencies within airborne operations and is a forum to share valuable information that leads to safety and efficiency improvements among the participating agencies.

The City’s boycott, which banned official travel to Arizona unless “special circumstances exist,” led City Councilmembers Greig Smith and Bernard Parks to introduce a motion with the first request for an exemption to the policy. If passed, the motion would allow the four officers to attend this highly regarded conference, where they would exchange best practices with fellow law enforcement air support personnel from around the country. This week, the council took up the issue and then delayed making a decision by suggesting that private donors pay for the trip. Before the issue could be decided and donors secured, the LAPD suddenly decided to cancel the officers’ training, despite prior approval and long history of attendance.

Apparently, the LAPD command staff decided that it should spare the City Council the embarrassment of voting on this issue. By placing political correctness above public safety, the Department did itself no favors. Clearly the training, considered to be one of the premier trainings for air support policing, was important enough for the Department to approve sending them in the first place – despite the budgetary constraints and long before the City Council enacted its boycott.

While we have not taken a political position on SB 1070, we are supportive of an honest public debate on the Arizona law by elected officials. The decision to boycott Arizona was a political one by the City Council. The LAPD did their officers and the residents of Los Angeles a great disservice by jumping into the political arena to try to spare councilmembers from addressing a consequence of their prior vote.

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OMG, pls stop b4 u kill sum1

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 06/10/2010 @ 10:59 PM

L.A. Fire Chief Millage Peaks offered a sobering statistic Monday as he joined Chief Beck and Mayor Villaraigosa in launching a campaign to stop the dangerous practice of texting while driving: The LAFD responds to 100 traffic accidents a day and 28 percent are caused by someone texting while driving. That’s potentially more than 10,000 accidents in Los Angeles annually that could be prevented simply by focusing on the road instead of your iPhone, Blackberry or cell phone.

The U.S. Department of Transportation tells us there are three forms of distracted driving: Taking one’s eyes off the road (visual), taking one’s hands off the steering wheel (manual) or taking one’s attention off driving (cognitive), any of which creates a greater risk of injury or death while driving. Because texting while driving involves all three, it is the most dangerous form of distracted driving. Other research has shown that drivers who send or receive a text message tend to take their eyes off the road for about five seconds, enough time for a vehicle going at highway speed to travel more than 100 yards. This helps explain why nearly 6,000 people died in crashes involving distracted or inattentive drivers last year and more than 500,000 were injured. Researchers found that the most frequent offenders are the youngest and least-experienced drivers – men and women under the age of 20.

Chief Beck noted that it is illegal to text while driving and he has instructed officers to enforce the law. Every time a motorist is stopped for such an infraction, he/she spreads the word to family, friends and coworkers that police are cracking down on the dangerous practice. As the word gets out, more and more people will comply with the law – for their own and others’ safety.

In our fast-paced, multitasking society – where we all feel time challenged – it can be very tempting to read and/or respond to text messages while stopped at a traffic signal or in gridlock. We certainly hope the campaign launched this week will cause people to take steps to avoid the temptation. If you find it hard to resist, try this: Silence your device and put it in the glove compartment until you reach your destination. You will be doing your part to make our streets and highways much safer.

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A meaningful Memorial Day

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 05/28/2010 @ 12:24 AM

Every day, peace officers put on their uniforms and go to work to safeguard America's communities and uphold the freedoms we hold dear. This weekend is Memorial Day and we will honor another group of individuals whose contributions and sacrifice have made this country safer. On Memorial Day we pay respect to veterans who have died serving our country.

Memorial Day salute

(Photo: www.usmc.mil)

This Memorial Day is especially meaningful to the LAPD in the wake of the recent death of Sgt. Major Robert “R.J.” Cottle. R.J. was not only a 27-year Marine veteran who was killed in Afghanistan; he was a highly regarded LAPD SWAT officer.

This weekend we will remember soldiers like R.J. who are America's patriots and gave what Abraham Lincoln called the last full measure of devotion. Their ultimate sacrifice serves as a constant reminder of the high cost of freedom and the hope for a safer, more peaceful world.

Please take time this Memorial Day to do more than just mark a three-day weekend. We can all make a difference with our individual acts, such as saying a prayer for the families of those who have lost loved ones, visiting the grave of a fallen veteran, or attending or participating in a Memorial Day parade.

We must also remember those veterans who returned home physically but are emotionally scarred by the horrors of war – horrors that continue to haunt them years and decades after the battle has ended. We have a responsibility to our wartime disabled, an obligation that cannot be discharged by the passage of time, or excused by monetary constraint.

Memorial Day is about many things, but it is mostly about refusing to forget. In your prayers this weekend, please take the time to honor the memory of R.J. and other American veterans who fought to bring peace, freedom, and prosperity to the world.

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Honoring the best of the best

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 05/25/2010 @ 04:09 PM

Several members of the LAPPL Board were proud to attend last Thursday’s 49th Annual Medal of Valor awards ceremony, when the LAPD presented its highest and most prestigious award to 17 of its finest at the Grand Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland. As has been the tradition of the LAPD for 49 years, the officers received the Medal of Valor for knowingly and willingly placing themselves in harm's way, whether or not they were on duty.

Fourteen of the officers who received medals were involved in what is referred to as the Welby Way incident. On February 7, 2008, a 20-year-old gunman who had killed his father and brother barricaded himself in his parents’ home, causing a standoff when SWAT officers attempted to rescue additional hostages.

Receiving the Medal of Valor for their roles in this incident were: Officers David Keortge, Thomas Chinappi, James Veenstra, German Hurtado, Randal Simmons, Floyd Curry, Anthony Samuelson, Stephen Scallon, Michael Barker, Michael Odle, George Ryan, Mark Mireles and Bonnie Lehigh, and Sergeant Charles Buttitta.

Officer Mireles had also received two previous Medals of Valor, making him the first LAPD officer in history to receive the award three times.

Providing one of the event’s most poignant moments, a visibly moved Chief Beck presented a posthumous medal to Matthew Simmons, son of Officer Randal David Simmons. Killed in the Welby Way incident, Officer Simmons, a 27-year veteran, was LAPD's first SWAT officer to die in the line of duty.

Officers Steven Beumer of Hollywood Division, who was off duty at the time, and Alonso Menchaca of Mission area were awarded medals for their diligent and lifesaving efforts in rescuing the trapped driver of a burning vehicle on December 22, 2007.

Officer Eric Hammerschmitt received a medal for his heroic attempts to rescue a man and his daughter in another burning vehicle incident on the San Diego freeway on June 1, 2008. He managed to pull the driver to safety and rushed back to save the daughter. Sadly, despite Officer Hammerschmitt’s courageous actions, neither of the victims survived their injuries.

The Board of Directors of the LAPPL congratulates the 2010 recipients of the Medal of Valor. Your dedication to the highest standards of law enforcement, combined with extraordinary courage and bravery, are an inspiration to all who serve with you.

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Are police officers the unspoken concern when it comes to Arizona’s new law?

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 05/14/2010 @ 01:19 PM

Much of the debate currently raging over Arizona’s new law, which directs law enforcement officers to investigate the immigration status of people who have been legally stopped, misses the point.

Opponents fear the law will become an excuse to terrorize Hispanics, who will be constantly challenged to prove they are here legally. They believe police officers will use the law as an opportunity to make life miserable for illegal residents in hopes they will pick up and go back home.

But where is the evidence for that?

Police officers are subject to closer review and scrutiny than any other public safety professional. Integrity and professionalism are their core values. Those who say we can’t trust our police to follow the law are basically saying we can’t trust our police – and we take issue with that.

Setting aside the inevitable tiny minority of bad apples found in any line of work, police officers in the United States are honest public officials deeply dedicated to not just enforcing, but obeying the law as they do their jobs.

While we are not taking a political position on the Arizona law, the fact is that it limits officers’ immigration status queries to people who have been legally stopped for some other reason. Even then, officers must have and be able to articulate in a written report the basis for a reasonable suspicion that the person is unlawfully present in the United States. This isn’t the pretext for a police state and it isn’t setting people up to be questioned while they are at an ice cream stand with their kids. It’s simply providing local and state police officers with the same kind of investigative discretion currently available to federal law enforcement officers.

Just like in Los Angeles under Special Order 40, illegal aliens who are otherwise law abiding residents should not fear the police. And just like Los Angeles, we think that everyone agrees that removing illegal aliens, who perpetrate crimes in our country, will make us all safer.

We are supportive of an honest public debate on the Arizona law, but let’s not make police officers’ ability or trustworthiness to constitutionally enforce the law, the underlying debate.

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