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Urgent Membership Alert and Call to Action issued

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 09/13/2009 @ 08:09 AM

On Friday, the League issued an important alert to its membership due to fast-moving developments relating to the MOU negotiations and the city budget crisis.

Triggering the Membership Alert was action by the City Executive Employee Relations Committee (EERC) again rejecting proposed options as negotiated between LAPPL and City negotiators to achieve agreement on a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the rank and file officers of the LAPD. (For those of you new to the city negotiating process, the EERC consists of Mayor Villaraigosa, City Council President Eric Garcetti, Mayor Pro Tempore Jan Perry, Budget and Finance Committee Chair Bernard Parks and the Personnel Committee Chair Dennis Zine.)

This negotiated proposal would have provided cost savings to the City while protecting police officers’ salary and benefits from take-aways. Regrettably, this was the fourth time in recent months that the EERC and/or the Mayor rejected our cost savings proposals.

To date, the League has offered the City several options to achieve needed savings. Despite the best efforts of the League’s negotiating team, the EERC sent us back to the negotiating table with still more demands. The moving targets and the intentional impediments of the negotiation process in establishing a new MOU for our members are leading to what could end up being unilateral implementation by the City of successor terms and conditions to our expired MOU.

If it comes to implementing the City’s last, best and final offer, (which they themselves have described as “Draconian”) a process would be triggered that would take a number of months to run its course. Until such time as that occurred, all terms and conditions of the previous MOU remain in full force and effect.

The LAPPL Board of Directors believes it has fully addressed the fiscal concerns of the City. The League negotiating team has gone above and beyond to provide the “shared sacrifice” the Mayor has called for.

The battle lines are being drawn and a battle looms.

The Board has formed a Call to Action Committee – a group of delegates from throughout the City to work with the Board of Directors to implement our response should the City declare an impasse and proceed with unilateral implementation of pay and working conditions.

We have contacted all City Councilmembers and other elected officials giving them the status of our negotiations to date and making it very clear that the City taking the action of unilateral implementation would cause irreparable damage to our working relationship. We want these elected officials to get personally involved to help resolve a deteriorating situation.

The League maintains a list of some 400,000 email addresses of registered voters in the City of Los Angeles, arranged by Council District. We will be harnessing that list once again to alert voters that public safety is under attack by city leaders. And, once again, we will ask for their intervention and assistance.

To summarize:

  • We have offered cost savings that preserve public safety and avoid officer furloughs.
  • The insistence on continuing to hiring new officers is setting the City up for a public safety crisis and potentially subjecting our members to unnecessary and irresponsible furloughs.
  • It makes no sense to continue hiring when the City still needs to cut millions of dollars from its budget. The Octomom Principle: You can't keep adding to the family if you can't support the kids you've already got.
  • It also makes no sense to furlough experienced, highly trained police officers while hiring rookies that need years on the job to match the knowledge and experience of the officers the City proposes to furlough.
  • Public safety must be the City’s No. 1 priority. That is a vital prerequisite for the City’s eventual economic recovery.

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Remembering the first responders of 9/11

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 09/10/2009 @ 05:15 PM

First Responders of 9/11

On Friday, Sept. 11, most of us will pause and reflect in our own ways on the 8th anniversary of 9/11. None of us will ever forget where we were and what we were doing when we first became aware that our nation was under attack on American soil.

At 8:46 a.m. Eastern time, Los Angeles-bound American Airlines Flight 11 crashed at a speed of 470 mph into the north side of the North Tower of the World Trade Center, between floors 93 and 99. The impact of the crash incinerated everything in its path, including wallboards, filing cabinets and computers.

If you were watching CNN, you saw and heard the first bulletin within two minutes as anchor Carol Lin broke into a commercial: “Yeah. This just in. You're looking at obviously a very disturbing live shot there. That is the World Trade Center, and we have unconfirmed reports this morning that a plane has crashed into one of the towers of the World Trade Center. CNN Center is just beginning to work on this story, obviously, calling our sources and trying to figure out exactly what happened, but clearly something relatively devastating happening this morning there on the south end of the island of Manhattan. That is once again, a picture of one of the towers of the World Trade Center."

As the firefighters and police officers ran toward the fiery World Trade Center, United Airlines Flight 175, also bound for Los Angeles, was taken over by five hijackers. At 9:03 a.m., it flew at a speed of 590 mph into the south side of the South Tower of the World Trade Center, crashing between floors 77 and 85. By this time, all major television networks were covering the first plane crash and many of us on the West Coast and around the world saw the impact live.

To this day, the numbers are staggering and incomprehensible.

  • Total number killed in attacks: 2,819
  • Firefighters and paramedics killed: 343
  • NYPD officers killed: 23
  • Port Authority police officers killed: 37

For the first responders who survived, the attacks will always be not only in their hearts and minds, but also, it turns out, in their lungs and blood. The toxic dust in the air around New York City's ground zero made many first responders gravely ill. A government study indicated nearly 70 percent of 9/11 first responders have debilitating respiratory illnesses.

Let us also not forget the first responders at the sites of the other 9/11 attacks. Los Angeles-bound American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the southwestern side of the Pentagon in Arlington, Va. All on board were killed, as were 125 Pentagon personnel.

United Airlines Flight 93 crashed into a coal-mining area southeast of Pittsburgh in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, after passengers courageously attempted to overtake the hijackers before they could crash the aircraft into another target in Washington, D.C.

As our nation observes the 8th anniversary of 9/11 this year, let us reflect on that fateful day in 2001 and remember the heroic first responders in New York City; Arlington, Virginia, and Somerset County, Pennsylvania. They could never have imaged what they would face when they went to work that day. They did what needed to be done and they did it with incredible courage and dedication. They will always be the greatest heroes of 9/11.

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Sentencing Commission

By Scott Rate on 09/03/2009 @ 10:15 AM

REUTERS/Kimberly White

On Monday, California lawmakers debated a very controversial prison reform plan proposed by the Governor that would have cut $1.2 billion in prison funding and reduced the inmate population by 40,000 over the next two years.

The plan, which passed the Assembly, cuts prison spending, reduces the state's 155,000 inmate population by 17,000 over the next year, reduces the number of prisoners under parole supervision following their prison terms, raises the threshold for what crimes are considered felonies and gives inmates the chance to reduce sentences by completing educational or rehabilitation courses.

Due in part to the hard work of the LAPPL and other law enforcement organizations, Assembly leaders cut a controversial provision in the bill which would have established a Sentencing Commission to review state sentencing guidelines. As the League has said for months, this was one of the most unacceptable portions of the bill.

While the Sentencing Commission provision was killed in the Assembly, it remains alive in the Senate portion of the bill. To be clear, a Sentencing Commission is an unelected group of people with the power to create and revise all sentencing laws.  For over 20 years, legislators, criminal defense attorneys, and other prisoner interest groups have been attempting to create such a commission allowing them to weaken the sentencing laws in this state, because They have been soundly defeated at the ballot box every time they have tried to  undercut the “Three Strikes” law!

 The responsibility of setting the range for prison sentences should rest only with the Legislature, as they are directly responsible to the voters of California.  If they want to weaken the sentencing laws, then they need to have the courage to propose and pass legislation to do so – and not try to hide behind a commission which allows them to both weaken our effective sentencing laws and avoid responsibility for doing so.  

The LAPPL supports the Assembly alternative to the Sentencing Commission, a commission to study why so many prisoners fail while on parole.  We need to understand how we can stop released inmates from violating their parole and get the recidivism rates down.  This is the smart and effective way to save money on the prison budget.

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A painful start to a new fire season

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 08/31/2009 @ 02:15 PM

fire

picture from www.fire.lacounty.gov website

Fire season is always challenging in Southern California. This particular season, however, is proving to be especially tough for the heroic men and women fighting the fires in Los Angeles County and the people they are protecting.

Sunday was a devastating day for all of us in public safety and a solemn reminder of the dangers we all face every day. Our hearts and prayers go out to the families, colleagues and friends of the two LA County firefighters who died while fighting the Station Fire.

Fire Captain Tedmund “Ted'” Hall, 47, of San Bernardino County, and Firefighter Specialist Arnaldo “Arnie” Quinones, 35, of Palmdale, were killed when their vehicle went over the side of a road during intense fire activity near Mount Gleason. Hall had been with county fire for 26 years, while Quinones had been with the department for eight years.

In Southern California, we have the finest and bravest firefighters protecting a huge population and a vast amount of property on a city, county and regional basis. The mutual aid provided by countless agencies is a credit to the planning, dedication and professionalism of everyone involved.

As we extend our deepest condolences for the loss of Captain Hall and Specialist Quinones, we also express sincere gratitude to our brothers and sisters on the front lines as they work through another long, hot day.Thank you for all you do.

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Keeping them honest in Sacramento

By Paul M. Weber on 08/27/2009 @ 04:25 PM

There’s encouraging news today from our legislative team in Sacramento.

When the California Assembly takes up the prison bill again next Monday, it won’t include a proposal for a sentencing commission sought by Senate Democrats and Governor Schwarzenegger. This is a victory for law enforcement throughout the state and a great credit to the hard work of our legislative team, which continues to take a leadership role on the prison bill.

We pushed back hard on the sentencing commission proposal. It would have created an unelected group of people with the power to essentially rewrite – and undermine – existing sentencing laws. Since 1984, legislators, criminal defense attorneys and other prisoner interest groups tried and failed at least eight times to create a sentencing commission empowered to weaken existing sentencing laws and undermine the will of voters who enacted the “Three Strikes” law.

Proponents of a sentencing commission recognize that their efforts to lessen sentences cannot win at the ballot box. Nor can they be passed through the legislature and enacted into law. That is why the sentencing commission idea was so dangerous and needed to be stopped in its tracks.

While we can feel good about killing off the sentencing commission concept for now, we must remain vigilant as the prison bill comes back for a vote in the Assembly.

While legislators keep trying to find a consensus on a controversial proposal that could release thousands of inmates from state prisons, the LAPPL continues to press lawmakers to find responsible ways to achieve savings without letting prisoners go free.

As evidenced by the sentencing commission idea being scuttled, our voices are being heard and we need to keep the pressure on. Please join us in letting legislators know that we expect them to pass a prison bill we can live with – one that doesn’t undermine all of the public safety gains we have worked so hard to achieve over the past several years.

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Keeping the pressure on

By Scott Rate on 08/27/2009 @ 03:37 PM

While California legislators keep trying to find a consensus on a controversial proposal that could release inmates from state prisons, the LAPPL continues to take the lead in pressing lawmakers to find other ways to achieve $1.2 billion in savings without letting prisoners free.

There’s got to be a responsible way to achieve budget savings without threatening public safety. Curt Hagman, vice chair of the Assembly Public Safety Committee, has one idea. He believes medical costs for inmates have ballooned out of control and need to be reined in. From 1997 to 2009, medical costs increased by 325% per inmate! California now spends more money per inmate on medical care than any other state. In fact, California spends more money on medical care per inmate than it does on the average Californian!

In the best of economic times, releasing prisoners to achieve budget savings would make no sense. In the severe recessionary times of today, such talk is nothing short of irresponsible. Consider the state unemployment level of nearly 12%. The unemployment statistic suggests that even law-abiding citizens are having great difficulty finding work. Thus, the chances of a newly released inmate finding a job of any kind are next to nil. Having large numbers of recently released inmates unable to find work is a recipe for a public safety crisis and an end to the dramatic reduction in crime achieved over the past several years.

It is up to the state legislature to figure out where cuts need to be made within the state’s prison system. Our message to lawmakers is clear: Do the right thing. Find responsible ways to achieve budget savings that don’t put the state’s residents at risk.

Call or email your elected representatives in Sacramento and let them know how you feel. Our collective voices are being heard and we can make a huge difference in the outcome!

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Picking a new police chief: Join the discussion here

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 08/20/2009 @ 04:49 PM

LAPD Chief William J. Bratton listens as Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa discusses Bratton's resignation. At right is John Mack, head of the Police Commission. (Brian Vanderbrug / Los Angeles Times / August 5, 2009)

The Police Commission has announced it will be hosting public meetings for input on the qualities of the next chief of police. The first of four meetings will be held at the Friendship Auditorium, 3201 Riverside Drive (near Griffith Park), at 6:30 p.m. on September 2nd. Already there has been a lot of discussion about what L.A. needs in its next chief, and whether he or she should come from within or outside the department. These discussions are bound to intensify as we move closer to Chief Bratton’s departure at the end of October. The new chief will face enormous challenges. First and foremost will be the city budget and its impact on police operations, and the LAPD’s ability to safely police the city. This will be especially true if thousands of inmates end up being freed from prison ahead of schedule. The LAPPL won’t endorse any one candidate for chief, however, when League President Paul M. Weber was asked for his comments for an L.A. Times op-ed piece last weekend, here’s part of what he said:

“We need someone with impeccable integrity, a strong work ethic, an openness to new ideas and a willingness to work with varied stakeholders. We need a good listener, someone who sees value in learning from others and also from the organization. One of the problems we had in the past was that if it wasn't LAPD, it wasn't valid. Conversely, the pendulum could swing the other way where nothing within the organization is any good. There is a fine line between being very open and seeking out other ideas, but at the same time recognizing that you have an incredibly talented pool of employees here within the organization.”
Paul went on to address the issue of where to find the best new Chief:
“I think there's plenty of talent within the department, and there's not necessarily a need to go outside. At the same time, let's be realistic. Chief Bratton came in from outside, and you can't say he was unsuccessful. I've been raised in this department, and we have a lot of very talented people here, but we have to be open to the possibility that there could be some incredibly talented individual who could come into this process. I think the foundation has been laid, and now it's a question of taking it to the next level and becoming an even better police department. At the rank-and-file level, we have the best, and they're looking for someone to lead them.”
We want to hear from officers, residents and other stakeholders representing as many points of view as possible. After all, who knows more about what L.A. needs in its next Chief than the people who are responsible for delivering police services and the residents who receive them? Tell us what you think.

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Remembering Sgt. Friday

By Paul M. Weber on 08/10/2009 @ 04:58 PM

stamp

“Ladies and gentlemen, the story you are about to see is real. The names have been changed to protect the innocent.”

So began every episode of the highly popular, class TV police drama “Dragnet,” which premiered in 1952 and ran until 1970. The show is widely credited with helping familiarize generations of U.S. viewers with Los Angeles, law enforcement and the LAPD.

On Tuesday, the LAPD and the U.S. Postal Service will host the unveiling of a stamp honoring the TV series at the Police Academy. The guest list for the event includes Jack Webb’s widow, Opal; actor Harry Morgan, who played Officer Bill Gannon the show from 1967-1970; and local officials.

All LAPD personnel and their family and friends, and stamp collectors of all ages are invited to attend. Those in attendance will be able to participate in the festivities, and purchase the Dragnet stamp, along with a special LAPD commemorative stamp, and assorted LAPD and Dragnet memorabilia.

You won’t want to miss this historic event tomorrow, Tuesday, August 11, at the L.A. Police Academy, 1880 N. Academy Road at 2 p.m.

additional information

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