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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.

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LAPD: Professionalism in the Face of Protests

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 12/12/2014 @ 03:33 PM

Countrywide protests serve as a reminder of the complexities law enforcement professionals face every day. Tragic events and demonstrations that can sometimes follow highlight the fact that there is a fine line between First Amendment rights to protest and speak out, on the one hand; and crossing the line to inflict damage on property, harm police, or endanger fellow citizens on the other.

Public safety requires cooperation and respect between police and citizens alike. For this reason among others, Los Angeles Police Department officers should be commended for their professionalism and dedication to all of our public safety.

Los Angeles police officers responding to recent demonstrations in Los Angeles went into the situations with a strong element of the unknown. It is important to remember that the very nature of everyday police work requires that officers subject themselves to risk; this is of course heightened when crowds form, and when protests take a turn towards violence.

During the demonstrations, LAPD officers detained hundreds of individuals without the use of force. These people were not detained because they were expressing their views or political opinion peacefully, but rather because they were interfering with others’ rights and refusing to disperse when given lawful orders and in some cases, inciting violence. It should be noted that these protesters were released in time to celebrate Thanksgiving at their homes. Through their courage in a time of tension, the LAPD serves as an example to all other law enforcement agencies.

The Los Angeles Daily News had it right in their editorial, “The police seem to have made arrests when the alternative was to let protesters endanger themselves and others, and block traffic on streets and the 101 Freeway near downtown; there were arrests for unlawful assembly, for alleged assaults on officers, and for outstanding warrants. Police should be held accountable if they’re proven to have detained people for unlawful assembly without warnings, but so far that doesn’t appear to be true.”

There will always be issues and decisions that every citizen may not agree with – it is simply the nature of who we are as Americans and as Angelenos. In these instances, we encourage all citizens to express their views.

That said, we ask the citizens of this great City to help reduce situations that might create new risks – to themselves, to the City, and to the officers of the LAPD. The LAPD will continue to serve the Los Angeles community with respect, professionalism and dedication. Together, we are hopeful we can create a safer, more peaceful community. At the end of the day, all police officers strive to serve and protect the public with the ultimate goal of going home to their families and loved ones in one piece. We are proud of L.A. police officers for reminding us all that they are the best police force in the world.

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

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Los Angeles, We have a problem

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 11/20/2014 @ 04:45 PM

Last night, many of the City’s most distinguished leaders gathered at the 13th annual Eagle and Badge “In the Line of Duty” Gala not only to honor leaders in public service, community support and law enforcement, but also to honor the LAPD officers who work to serve and protect their City, and pay respect to those who have given the ultimate sacrifice in striving to keep the streets of L.A. safe. While truly heartfelt words of appreciation and thanks were given, it was the Los Angeles Police Commission President Steve Soboroff who spoke to the reality this City is facing, proclaiming that our officers are significantly “underpaid, under equipped and underappreciated.” Truer words were never spoken – LAPD officers face danger on the streets each and every day, and as we head into the holiday season, they will sacrifice time with their families during the holidays in order to keep Angelino families safe, regardless of a contract or certainty about their economic future. They remain committed to their mission to protect and serve.

A mission that is becoming increasingly more difficult considering the fact that according to the Los Angeles Police Department, Citywide violent crime– including murders, attempted murders, rapes and assaults - is up almost 10 percent in 2014 compared to the same period last year. In raw numbers, that’s more than 1,500 additional violent crime victims, or about five more per day. Unfortunately, these numbers shouldn’t come as a surprise; stories of brazen murders and vicious assaults have been leading local TV newscasts and leaping off the pages of the papers.

Make no mistake, this 9.9 percent marks a major jump in violent crime that will require LAPD officers to work even harder and place themselves in greater danger in pursuit of public safety. Crime will continue to rise in Los Angeles and across the state as the consequences of the recently passed Proposition 47 begin to put hardened criminals back on our streets. Unsurprisingly, we’re already seeing convicted criminals, released under the provisions of Prop 47, return to crime within days of leaving prison. This could be the beginning of a dark and dangerous time for Los Angeles. The voters have spoken and so our officers will do what they can to protect our great City.

Protecting our City, and our officers, requires leadership. Leadership to recognize the outstanding work LAPD officers have been doing amid increased threats to public safety…leadership to present a contract offer that acknowledges that outstanding work…leadership to take action to prevent a further deterioration of officer morale and to retain the Department’s highly-skilled workforce. Leadership to do what’s right.

The storm of already increasing crime coupled with the consequences of Prop 47 means every LAPD officer will face greater pressure, greater urgency and greater danger when they go to work every day. Public safety faces a great challenge, but LAPD officers stand ready to do their part, as always, protecting and serving, and putting public safety first. The question that remains unanswered is will the City do its part to serve its brave officers?

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

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Leavin’ (a troubled City) on a jet plane

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 11/13/2014 @ 05:45 PM

Dark clouds are gathering over Los Angeles. Violent crime is up. Thousands of dangerous felons could soon flood the area after state voters passed Proposition 47 last week. LAPD officer morale is low and sinking even further due to the City’s woefully inadequate and indeed insulting contract offers. And where, you ask, is Mayor Eric Garcetti? He is leaving L.A. on Saturday on a 12-day junket to Asia – further proof that public safety is way down on his list of priorities.

A quick look at last weekend’s news headlines underscores the increased dangers our brave officers are facing every day on the City’s increasingly violent streets. On Saturday night, an assault suspect repeatedly fired at police who began pursuing him in East Los Angeles. The next afternoon, officers were threatened by a knife-wielding man on Victory Boulevard and Haskell Avenue in the San Fernando Valley. In other weekend incidents, a woman was shot and killed when a gunman fired multiple rounds into a car in downtown Los Angeles, a car-to-car shooting left a man dead in South Los Angeles, an Army veteran was shot and killed in Sylmar and a group of men attacked a 69-year-old woman in Hancock Park in broad daylight, holding her down while cutting her Rolex watch off her wrist. This might sound like a crime roundup for Chicago, but it’s happening right here.

Unfortunately, incidents such as these are not aberrations.

Violent crime has leaped 9 percent this year compared with the same period in 2013. Homicides are up 4.5 percent, reported rapes 12 percent and aggravated assaults an astonishing 20 percent.

Things are likely to get worse when Prop 47’s hidden provisions are unleashed onto an unsuspecting city. Felons with prior convictions for armed robbery, kidnapping, carjacking, child abuse, residential burglary, arson, assault with a deadly weapon and many other serious crimes are eligible for early release.

But instead of recognizing the outstanding work LAPD officers have been doing amid increased threats to public safety, the City presented a regressive contract offer that forced the LAPPL to declare impasse in the contract negotiations. There is already demonstrable evidence that the City’s refusal to address this issue is affecting morale and the Department’s ability to retain highly-skilled officers. Officer attrition, of course, negatively affects public safety – we just have to look north to San Jose as a case in point.

The mayor has made it clear he’s happy to spend taxpayer money – just not on police. He was more than willing to shell out $170,000 to subsidize Live Nation’s two-day downtown music festival over the Labor Day weekend. And he’s aggressively pursuing a $1 billion federal plan to restore a few miles of the Los Angeles River. It’s folly to think the City’s share of the cost won’t amount to millions, at least.

We’re certainly not against public entertainment or beautification projects. But a true leader must have priorities – and the top priority must be public safety. Our message is clear. Step up, Mr. Mayor. Take responsibility and lead this City.

A good start when he returns to L.A. would be to take care of the brave men and women who put their lives on the line every day to protect its residents, instead of nickel-and-diming them.

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

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Prop 47 jeopardizes public safety

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 10/31/2014 @ 04:44 PM

Click on the image to view as a full size PDF.

Click on the image above to view as a full size PDF.

What if we told you that you had the opportunity to release thousands of dangerous inmates with serious criminal records back to your community? Would you do it? Would you risk the safety of your family and community by allowing felons back onto your streets?

That is exactly what you would be doing voting for Proposition 47 on November 4, 2014.

Felons convicted of armed robbery, kidnapping, carjacking, child abuse, residential burglary, arson, assault with a deadly weapon and so on, would be eligible for early release specifically under Prop 47.

Prop 47 handcuffs judges from preventing the early release of convicted felons except under the rare exception, defined by “unreasonable risk of danger to public safety.” As vague and ambiguous as that definition of a rare exception is, even more perplexing and deceptive are the supporters of Prop 47 with their claims of “safer neighborhoods and schools.”

Prop 47 will not only release convicted inmates, but will also automatically change serious crimes from felonies to misdemeanors, leading to a hollow law enforcement system and criminal justice system.

Misleading tactics have propelled Prop 47 supporters in deceiving the public in favor of this masked legislation. How can “safer neighborhoods and schools” be accomplished by allowing serious criminals into your community that are benefiting from a legislation that will only give them a slap on the wrist?

Prop 47 DOES NOT put public safety first and we're not the only ones who have concerns. For more information, read the articles below.

Dianne Feinstein- California Senator

“Danger from Prop. 47 is that it will result in the resentencing—and often outright release—of thousands of California convicts.”

Sacramento Bee Editorial Board

“If voters approve Proposition 47, about 40,000 offenders a year would be affected, facing misdemeanors rather than felonies.”

Sandra Hutchens- Sheriff, OC Sheriff’s Department

“Prop. 47 is a bad idea. It will result in more crime, new victims, and less safety. Safe Schools and Neighborhoods Act? I’m not buying it.”

Bill Brown- Sheriff, Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department

Joyce Dudley- District Attorney, Santa Barbara County

“Reducing the penalties for gun theft, possession of date rape drugs, agricultural crime and other serious offenses will expose our communities to increased criminality.”

Los Angeles Daily News Opinion

“Also worrisome is that Proposition 47 allows no extra penalty for repeat offenders. What about someone who forges 10 checks for $500 each over the years? This proposition doesn’t deal with that. And for poor communities, where a few dollars matter, that is huge.”

Greg Munks- Sheriff, San Mateo County

Steve Wagstaffe- District Attorney, San Mateo County

“Proposition 47 inappropriately takes away the discretion of the district attorney to determine whether criminals with serious and violent records should be prosecuted as felons when they commit certain crimes against victims in our community. This is bad public policy and should be rejected.”

George Skelton – Los Angeles Times

“Proposition 47, which would reduce drug and theft penalties, is a bill that shouldn't be on the state ballot… The thief who steals a $200 bracelet from a mom-and-pop jewelry in Boyle Heights gets a slap on the wrist. But walk off with a $2,000 necklace from a Beverly Hills shop and it's a felony. Doesn't click.”

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

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The Latest Rush to Judgment

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 10/25/2014 @ 02:45 PM

After all of the recent high profile cases where the initial reports of an incident did not tell the entire story, one would expect that politicians would not rush to judgment in a case that they know nothing about except for what they read in the Los Angeles Times. However, that was not the case for Councilmember Curren Price, who has apparently already passed judgment in the Clinton Alford case.

The Times story says that a Los Angeles police officer is being investigated by the department's Force Investigation and Internal Affairs divisions for allegedly using excessive force during the arrest of a drug possession suspect, Clinton Alford, in South Los Angeles last week. Citing "anonymous sources close to the investigation," the Times reported that a private company's surveillance camera captured images of the officer kicking the suspect in the head.

Councilmember Price said in a statement that he was "deeply disturbed to hear about this incident as our community is still reeling from recent incidents of excessive and even deadly force." He demanded that the LAPD "take every action necessary to ensure that these officers are held accountable for their actions."

Even more frustrating are the comments NOT made by Chief Beck. Beck was quick to comment on the investigation, stating "This investigation is ongoing and there is still much that needs to be done to determine the facts of this matter, but let me be very clear, any officer that is found to abuse the public is not welcome in this department, and we will apply whatever legal or administrative means necessary to insure the community's trust without exception." We all agree the investigation needs to happen, but it's disappointing that the Chief isn't reminding people to hold their judgement until all of the facts are known. Furthermore, where is his outrage about "police officials" in the department leaking information for a story that hasn't been verified by the Times? Quite frankly, what he doesn't say, speaks volumes to our membership.

Tyler Izen, President of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, spoke with the Times reporter before the story was published; however his comments reminding that the public should not rush to judgment in this case and that all the officers have not even been interviewed yet, never made the story. Izen told the Times that the League wanted a quick and thorough investigation just like everyone else, because the officers are assigned home and that's not good for anyone.

Gary Fullerton, an attorney representing the officers, disputed accounts of the story and said that, "It's is my belief once everything is explained and all the nuances of the incident are understood, it will be clear the force the officers used was appropriate and necessary." Fullerton said the officers were responding to a detective's radio call for help in locating a robbery suspect when they spotted Alford and attempted to apprehend him. Alford turned out not to be the man the detective was pursuing, but the officers ended up arresting Alford for possession of cocaine, the attorney said.

We would expect that Councilmember Price and the community-at-large would be encouraged to know that the LAPD thoroughly investigates all allegations. We would also hope that Chief Beck and the community will balance their enthusiasm for the investigation with the commitment to due process. We've been in this situation before and everyone needs to be reminded that in many instances, a video alone does not hold all of the facts necessary to determine the truth.

Judging the officers actions and vilifying them in a rush to judgment based on partial information and an incomplete investigation is innappropriate, unfair and irresponsible. We urge everyone to allow the investigation to run its course without premature, inflammatory or condemning remarks. The facts will be revealed by interviewing the officers involved and reviewing ALL of the evidence - not just a single video - all of which may not provide the headline or instant judgment that a politician might desire, but will assist in determining the truth.

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

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