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Our greatest fears realized

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 02/04/2010 @ 03:35 PM

Only one week into California’s inmate early release program, our greatest fears are already being realized.

Nearly 6,000 inmates are predicted to head to LA County under the state's early release program, which began on January 25. (Photo: National Geographic Channel)

Despite assurances from state legislators that violent prisoners wouldn’t be getting out early, several glaring examples prove that this isn’t true.

A prime case in point from Sacramento County: It took a mere 12 hours for one inmate released under the program to be arrested on charges of attempted rape, sexual battery, false imprisonment and violating the terms of his probation.

Commenting on the case, Kevin Mickelson, president of the Sacramento County Deputy Sheriff's Association, echoed what we have been warning for months: "The state Legislature has duped the citizens of California into believing they've released only nonviolent offenders back into the communities.”

Neighborhoods and communities throughout California are less safe today because of this irresponsible early release program. As if that weren’t bad enough, the highest percentage of the released inmates (almost 6,000) are coming to Los Angeles County!

We cannot imagine a worse time for our local officials to float the idea of police layoffs as a means of solving the city budget crisis. Maintaining our public safety resources is the only way to prevent worsening this severe recession and to put our city on the road to economic recovery.

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My Last Word on Financial Disclosure

By Tyler Izen on 02/01/2010 @ 02:17 PM

Financial Disclosure Form

The Los Angeles Police Protective League (LAPPL) fought vigorously to prevent the onerous financial disclosure requirements imposed by the LAPD in their effort to implement the Consent Decree which, to date, has been upheld by Federal Judge Feess. Although the LAPPL is continuing its legal fight, the financial disclosure policy is now enforceable. You either sign or you don't work Gangs or Narcotics. The Department will either find people who will sign, or they will discontinue "specialized" gang and narcotics units (in favor of doing police work the old fashioned way?)

Why I have no intention of completing and signing the Financial Disclosure Form

While everyone has to make their own personal choice, I thought it might be helpful to tell you why I am not willing to complete the financial disclosure form.

  1. Since the Consent Decree became effective, the LAPPL negotiated a number of acceptable proposals that balanced the intent of the financial disclosure requirement and protection of officers’ right to privacy.
  2. In early 2006, a binding agreement between the City and the LAPPL was reached. The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) also agreed to the terms of the proposal. The City and DOJ (the parties to the Consent Decree) subsequently filed a joint motion in federal court to modify the ORIGINAL consent decree document to incorporate the new financial disclosure language that had been agreed to by the City, Department of Justice, LAPD, and the LAPPL.
  3. On March 22, 2006 Judge Feess denied the Joint motion to modify the Financial Disclosure
  4. In March, 2007, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said, "...No other police department in the United States of America is required to fill out financial disclosures when they work with gangs at this level," Villaraigosa said. "I understand why our officers -- in a city where we haven't had corruption on a scale and scope that other cities have -- why they would be reticent to sign these financial disclosures."
  5. In a December 20, 2008 editorial, the LA Times wrote, “It's hard to see how periodic financial reports would help LAPD brass nail corrupt cops. Officers already must submit to lie detector tests, and they now work in an environment in which stings are all but routine. Financial disclosure would do nothing to allow the public to monitor the kinds of corruption and excessive force that led to the Rampart scandal -- or the kind of management and training failures that produced this year's MacArthur Park fiasco.”

So, ladies and gentlemen, despite overwhelming agreement that THIS financial disclosure is unnecessary, intrusive, and unprecedented; a Federal Judge, NOT the people of Los Angeles or their leadership, demanded it. Sadly, Our Los Angeles leadership caved in to the judge’s whim and is now encouraging you to sign the financial disclosure form instead of fighting for what is right.

Ironic, isn’t it? Among the reasons we spent millions of dollars working under the terms of the Consent Decree was because the LAPD had too much power. Now a single federal judge threatens the safety and security of the citizens of this city because of his ivory tower, out-of-touch-with-reality arrogance!

I won’t sign because 1) I haven’t found anyone who thinks it is necessary to improve the Department, 2) I’ve spent my whole life and 25 years with the LAPD standing up to bullies … I won’t stop now, and 3) there are plenty of great positions within the LAPD where I can serve the citizens of Los Angeles proudly without compromising my privacy or my values.

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Time for officers and the community to speak up

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 01/25/2010 @ 04:06 PM

The City Council’s Budget and Finance Committee is beginning a series of Monday-night meetings this week to discuss the city budget and what its priorities should be. The first meeting is tonight at 6:00 p.m. at Van Nuys City Hall.

Ironically, today is the same day that the state begins to release over 6,500 prisoners from state prisons and to reclassify people on parole. A great number of these criminals, labeled as “low-level” offenders, have serious criminal records.

A Los Angeles Times editorial this weekend called on city officials to “Spare LAPD from the budget knife.” We wholeheartedly agree. Maintaining public safety and keeping the crime rate at its historically low levels is a prerequisite for the local economy to recover. Yet, on KABC Channel 7 on Sunday, Councilman Parks spoke of the need to not only stop hiring police officers but to also consider officer layoffs.

In our daily LAPPL NewsWatch, we will be calling attention to upcoming meetings and hearings related to the city budget crisis, so that LAPD officers and other interested parties can attend and push for Public Safety First. Nobody knows this issue better than the cops on the front lines. The time to speak up and let our collective voice be heard is now. Please join your LAPD officers and LAPPL Board members at one of the budget hearings listed below.

We understand painful choices must be made in reconciling the city budget with the shrinking available funds. We think the LA Times editorial hit the nail on the head: “The facts of life are that many city programs that do some good are unaffordable and must be cut. City leaders must not try to shelter such programs by undermining the continuing transformation, and success, of the LAPD.”

TAKE ACTION NOW!

A fully staffed LAPD is necessary for the city’s economic recovery. Please tell your Council members to come up with other cost-saving ideas that do not endanger the community. (Note to officers: If you attend the meetings, please do so off-duty and not in uniform.)

Budget on the Road Meetings:

Valley
Van Nuys City Hall
Monday, Jan. 25, 6:00 p.m.
14410 Sylvan St.
Van Nuys, CA 91401

West L.A.
Hamilton High School - Cafeteria
Monday, Feb. 22, 6:00 p.m.
2955 S. Robertson Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90034

East L.A.
El Sereno Recreation Center
Monday, Mar. 8, 6:00 p.m.
4721 Klamath St.
Los Angeles, CA 90032

South L.A.
Central Avenue Constituent Services Center
Monday, Mar. 22, 6:00 p.m.
4301 S. Central Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90011

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Forty-seven years later, we haven’t forgotten

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 01/21/2010 @ 07:30 PM

There’s another parole hearing coming up next week that has our full attention.

Officer Ian J. Campbell
EOW: March 9, 1963

If you haven’t heard the name Gregory Powell, you have probably heard of the infamous “Onion Field” case. It was a best-selling book by Joseph Wambaugh and later a movie starring James Woods – but the most important thing to remember is that these depictions were based on a true story and a real tragedy.

Powell was convicted of abducting LAPD Officer Ian Campbell and his partner, Officer Karl Hettinger, on March 6, 1963, after the officers stopped Powell and his cohort, Jimmy Lee Smith, for a routine traffic violation. Powell disarmed the officers by pulling a gun on Campbell and holding him hostage.

With a gun held to his ribs, Officer Campbell was forced to drive to an onion field near Bakersfield. He and Officer Hettinger were ordered to stand outside with their hands in the air. Then Powell shot Campbell in the face. Officer Hettinger was able to elude his captors, but was haunted by the incident his entire life.

For the killing, Smith and Powell both were originally sentenced to death, but the sentences were reduced to life after court decisions that temporarily stopped executions in the 1970s.

Powell is having a parole hearing on January 27. As we have at every parole hearing, the League is imploring the Parole Board to deny Powell’s application (click here to view our letter), and we are asking our officers and the community to do the same. Please send your letters right away requesting denial of parole for inmate Gregory Powell, CDC# A-57622, to:

Parole Board
California Board of Prison Terms
c/o California Men’s Colony
P.O. Box 8101
San Luis Obispo, CA 93409-8101

We will never show any tolerance for the killing of police officers. Law enforcement and the community at large must send a clear message that in a civilized society, the murder of police officers is unacceptable – and those who undermine the very fiber of public safety must expect the harshest possible treatment available under the law.

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LAPPL opposes parole for killer of LAPD Metro Officer Jim Pagliotti

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 01/19/2010 @ 05:18 PM

Officer James Pagliotti
EOW: June 22, 1987

On June 22, 1987, Metro Officer Jim Pagliotti was working a surveillance detail when he and other officers were diverted to investigate some suspects who appeared to be armed. Gunshots were exchanged, and although Pagliotti shot his assailant, he was fatally wounded by Louis Belvin Jr.

Justice was served in December 1991, when through the hard work of RHD Detectives Marv Enquist, Jerry Stephens and the District Attorney’s office, Belvin was convicted of Jim’s murder and received a sentence of 28 years to life.

Belvin is now up for parole. The Los Angeles Police Protective League vehemently opposes the release of Louis Belvin Jr. and we have communicated our position to the Parole Board and the Governor.

A hearing is set for February 23, 2010, and we need your help to help us keep this brutal killer behind bars.

At the time of Pagliotti’s murder, Belvin was a suspect in another shooting, and just moments prior to shooting Pagliotti, Belvin beat a victim at the same intersection. Belvin may now be only 40 years old, but he remains a hardened cop-killer.

It is crucial to the security of the state of California, and to the safety of the men and women who enforce its laws, that killers forfeit their freedom for life when they murder a law enforcement officer. Join us in asking that Belvins’ parole be denied and that another parole hearing not be set for the maximum time allowed between hearings – 15 years.

We urge you to honor Pagliotti’s memory by submitting a letter of opposition as soon as possible. Be sure to indicate that you oppose the parole of inmate Louis Belvin, #H33133, and mail to the following address:

             California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison
             Attention: Classification and Parole Representative/Lifer Desk
             900 Quebec Avenue
             Corcoran, California 93212

We will never forget.

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There they go again!

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 01/07/2010 @ 04:31 PM

The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco wasted little time before giving us its first curious – if not outrageous – decision of 2010.

After closing out 2009 with its controversial Taser decision (see our blog post of December 30 below), the court this week overturned Washington State’s ban on voting by convicted felons. Why? Well, according to the Ninth Circuit, the criminal justice system in Washington discriminates against minorities at every level of the criminal justice system: arrest, bail, prosecution and sentencing. Ever dependable, the oft-reversed Judge Stephen Reinhardt was one of the two justices ruling in favor of the convicted felons. Read more about the ruling here

Now, you might think that this was the result of a hard-fought legal case in the lower district court – but you would be wrong. In actuality, there was no trial on the merits of the statistics offered up by the felons. The dissenting judge accurately characterized the ruling as a summary judgment for the felons that effectively settled the case on appeal.

The 2-1 decision is the first by an appeals court to overturn a state's prohibition on voting by felons, which exists in different versions in every state except Maine and Vermont. A state appeals court in San Francisco upheld California's voting law last year. Three other federal appeals courts have ruled that the Voting Rights Act does not apply to bans on voting by felons.

The good news is that the State of Washington is going to appeal the decision, either to the entire Ninth Circuit or the U.S. Supreme Court. We are hoping for the U.S. Supreme Court, because Reinhardt’s name attached to any ruling is a red flag indicator that legal analysis is lacking – with a good chance of a 9-0 reversal by the Supreme Court.

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Closing out 2009 on a high note

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 12/31/2009 @ 12:00 PM

For our final blog posting of 2009, we would be remiss if we did not recognize and congratulate the members of the LAPPL for their significant contributions in the reduction in L.A. crime rates. Thanks to their dedication and professionalism, LA is a safer city today than it has been in decades.

This was the seventh consecutive year in which the rate of serious crimes has declined in L.A. Through Saturday, violent crimes, such as homicide, rape and robbery, fell about 10% compared with the same period last year, while burglary and other property crimes declined 8%, according to LAPD figures.

All of this was accomplished in a challenging environment of double-digit unemployment and a recession some would say challenges the Great Depression. It also ran counter to less favorable crime statistics reported in surrounding jurisdictions including Long Beach, Santa Monica and Orange County.

In the media this week, several criminologists justifiably credited LAPD officers for the crime rate reductions. Among them were Richard B. Rosenfeld, president of the American Society of Criminology, and George Kelling, a leading criminal justice scholar at Rutgers University. We thank them for giving LAPD officers independent recognition for a job well done.

LA Times reported: “Kelling and Rosenfeld emphasized that much of the credit for the extended decline in Los Angeles belongs to the LAPD, which has continued to refine crime-fighting strategies and strengthen ties with community groups in neighborhoods where it was once viewed with distrust and hostility.”

Rosenfeld hastened to add that our ability keep up the gains depends on whether elected officials manage to continue to fund the Department at levels that allow LAPD to maintain the ranks and strategies. "Smart policing is not cheap," he said. "Whether it will continue to succeed depends on whether communities can afford it."

That’s our challenge in 2010: To keep public safety as the top priority in Los Angeles. Having solid results to show for the efforts of LAPD officers in 2009 puts us in a good position to keep the pressure on and prevail in the upcoming year.

Happy New Year to all.

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The Ninth Circuit's year-end 'gift' to law enforcement

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 12/30/2009 @ 11:55 AM

Tazer

Stun guns like this Taser X26 are supported by law enforcement. (Photo: Herb Swanson / AP)

On the heels of an appalling district court decision overturning the California law banning the possession of body armor by violent felons, another court decision has us scratching our heads in disbelief.

This time it was a Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel, essentially ruling that unless an officer is actually under physical attack, he/she cannot use a Taser to subdue a suspect. And, for good measure, these starry-eyed jurists, who probably have never been in a physical fight in their lives, opined that police officers should not fear irrational suspects defying officer commands as long as the suspect stays 15 feet from the officer.

As every street cop knows, any suspect within 15 feet who is actively resisting verbal commands is a threat to officer safety.

If a suspect complies with an officer’s commands, the use of force or a weapon is unnecessary. When a suspect fails to comply with verbal commands, it means the situation is rapidly escalating and some form of force will be required to gain compliance.

Non-lethal force is the safest and best way to obtain the needed compliance. Non-lethal force instruments are designed to avoid injury to both officers and suspects by swiftly incapacitating the suspect. Stand-off instruments such as Tasers ensure officer safety. Inhibiting officers from using the Taser option puts them, suspects and innocent bystanders in greater danger.

About the only positive thing we can find in the opinion is that Judge Stephen Reinhardt, one of the authors of this decision, was recently reversed 9-0 by the U.S. Supreme Court in a death penalty case where, unbelievably, he was found to have fabricated facts in his opinion. We can only hope that either the Ninth Circuit en banc, or the U.S. Supreme Court, reverses yet another terrible ruling by Reinhardt.

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