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Should LAPD Officers Pursue Donning and Doffing Cases?

By Hank Hernandez on 07/21/2009 @ 11:10 AM

Donning and doffing cases are one of the hottest topics between public agencies and public safety labor organizations. In law enforcement, donning refers to the time it takes a police officer to put on his uniform and safety equipment. Doffing is the time required to remove the same uniform and equipment at end of shift. The LAPD requires its police officers to maintain, don and doff unique uniform clothing and protective equipment necessary to the performance of their jobs with the City of Los Angeles. The City pays no compensation to LAPD officers for the time spent maintaining, donning and doffing this unique uniform and protective equipment. As a result, the time spent by officers on such activities occurs outside the officers' regularly scheduled shifts and is not compensated by the City.

The required LAPD uniform is a combination package and gear that is specified in great detail in the LAPD Manual. In broad terms, along with the specified attire, the uniform package includes required safety gear that officers are required to wear, maintain, and ensure is properly working. Taken together, the authorized uniform package weighs between twenty (20) and thirty (30) pounds. The body armor alone weighs approximately 10 pounds. The duty equipment belt bears a substantial portion of the remaining weight because affixed to it is the officer's safety equipment, including the firearm, additional ammunition, baton, flashlight, pepper spray, handcuffs and other gear. The sheer bulk of the items that comprise the uniform package not only reduces an officer's mobility, but also contributes to the chronic back and knee problems often suffered by officers.

Counterterrorism

The numerous items of specialized safety gear, along with the various pieces of attire that form an integral uniform package, are essential to effective police work. Because the LAPD requires, as a condition of employment, that officers in patrol and traffic assignments be dressed in their uniform and prepared with all their safety gear from the time the shift commences until it concludes, the time spent by individual officers inspecting the functionality of the individual pieces of equipment, rendering it operational, maintaining the equipment, ensuring that the attire meets Department standards, as well as putting on and removing all the various components of the required police uniform package is done entirely prior to and after an officer's shift. There is no good reason or legal cause why LAPD officers should not receive the same protection as other workers.

While some have expressed the point of view that police officers should not be suing for pay to get dressed, it is the federal wage law and the associated Court decisions which require such pay. Starting with the U.S Supreme Court in late 2005, through a decision in the Central District Court against LAPD this May, the federal wage ‘law’ has developed to require employers to pay for pre and post shift time spent donning, doffing, and performing other tasks associated with unique uniforms and special protective gear which is required by the employer. This is the law, and is the valid basis and purpose for the ongoing litigation. In addition, the rights to pursue such litigation belong to the individual employees - - not to the unions - - and the idea that the unions are forcing unnecessary litigation is misplaced and incorrect. Individual peace officers are, unfortunately, having to resort to litigation to force LAPD to comply with the wage law mandating pay for the pre and post shift time which LAPD requires as a essential part of the police work performed.

Please share your thoughts and join the discussion on this important issue.

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What are they thinking?

By Paul M. Weber on 07/17/2009 @ 09:59 AM

break in

For the past 2 ½ months, the League has been warning of the dire consequences of early releases of inmates from state prisons. There have been multiple membership alerts, press releases and other communications. We have implored lawmakers to look elsewhere for budget savings. Putting felons back on the streets risks reversing the significant crime reduction trend in Los Angeles and end up costing taxpayers much more money than such a budget maneuver would ever hope to save.

Within the past 24 hours, we became even more alarmed when reliable sources in Sacramento told us legislative leadership was poised to put forth a state budget that would require mass early release of felons. To achieve the magnitude of the savings needed using this ill-conceived approach, some 20,000 inmates would be released across the state. Many of them would return to the streets of L.A.

Make no mistake: Because Los Angeles and 32 other California counties are at their court-ordered capacity caps, “early release” amounts to commuting sentences and putting criminals back on the streets!

Early release programs are a disaster. According to a study conducted by the Federal Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), early release budget cuts are a dangerous “shell game.” The BJS study found that the vast majority of early releases (about 70%) recidivate within three years, and the majority of those arrests occur within 12 months! Even worse, 1 in 5 prisoners is re-arrested for a violent crime, including murder!

So once again we have turned to our membership and our other supporters in an urgent bid to get early releases of prisoners off the budget balancing table in Sacramento. We asked them to call their lawmakers and tell them the dire public safety consequences of a mass early release of felons from state prisons. If you have not already done so, pick up the phone and let the lawmakers know you're paying attention and expect them to put public safety first.

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Looking beyond the numbers

By Peter Repovich on 07/16/2009 @ 05:22 PM

Crime down

The substantial benefits of a robust police department can be clearly seen in the mid-year crime statistics released today.

Violent crime in L.A. is down nearly 6 percent so far in 2009, led by a reduction in the total number of killings of nearly a third compared with the same period in 2008. There were 137 killings between Jan. 1 and June 30 of 2009 versus 197 for the same time period in 2008.

The L.A. Times reports the data reflects “a half-decade of declines in violent and property crime that began in 2003 and has continued despite double-digit unemployment in Los Angeles.” Assaults were down 8%, and there were 11% fewer reports of shots fired and 18% fewer shooting victims.

We can all feel good about the continuation of the very positive trend toward making L.A. one of the safest big cities in America. We urge city leaders to recognize the excellent service and value they have in the men and women of the LAPD as they look elsewhere for solutions to the current budget crisis.

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A reminder of the dangers on streets and freeways

By Paul M. Weber on 07/14/2009 @ 09:58 AM

crash

For the second straight year, traffic incidents in the U.S. make up a clear majority of officer deaths. It’s a solemn reminder of how dangerous our streets and freeways are for police officers, particularly in a vast geographic area such as Los Angeles.

Preliminary data from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) shows the number of officers killed in traffic-related incidents increased 17 percent during the first six months of 2009, from 30 to 35.

If the current rate continues, 2009 will be the 12th year in a row in which more officers are killed in traffic-related incidents than by any other cause. Traffic-related incidents include automobile, motorcycle and bicycle crashes, plus officers struck while outside their vehicles. At least six traffic-related deaths this year have involved drunk drivers.

2008 marked the first time in U.S. history that more than 50 percent of officer fatalities in a single year involved traffic-related incidents. Mid-year 2009, the percentage has remained at just above 53 percent, with automobile accidents accounting for nearly 40 percent of fatalities.

It’s a dangerous job to protect and serve. Be careful out there, on foot and in your patrol car.

Click here for more about the NLEOMF’s study, including a link to the mid-year report.

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Understanding the hidden danger of stress in police work

By John R. Mumma on 07/08/2009 @ 11:02 PM

stree

All of us in law enforcement understand why police work is inherently stressful. The constant risk of confrontations with suspects and other types of high-pressure incidents is something we – and, by extension, our family members – find stressful on a daily basis.

Many studies over the years have shown an unmistakable correlation between stress and a variety of physical illnesses, and now comes a new study providing fresh evidence of how police work puts our health at risk [“Police Work Undermines Cardiovascular Health, Comparison To General Population Shows,” June issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090630132017.htm].

Research by Dr. John Violanti and his colleagues at the University of Buffalo show that the stress of police work may undermine officers' cardiovascular health. (This does not come as much of a surprise, as we have had a number of members hospitalized recently for heart attacks and other stress issues.) Results showed that police work was associated with increased subclinical cardiovascular disease –there was more plaque build-up in the carotid artery – compared to the general population, a finding could not be explained by conventional heart disease risk factors.

The research will continue to provide a greater understanding of how the working conditions of police officers puts us at risk in ways we don’t yet fully appreciate. From that understanding we may learn better how to lessen stress and in so doing, reduce our exposure to work-related illnesses. For example, exercise and time away from work are vitally important to lowering stress levels.

I urge you all to take care of your physical and mental health. After all, what good is that pension if you aren’t here to collect it?

Please share your thoughts and join the discussion on this important issue.

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Mayor lays out goals in second inaugural speech

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 07/08/2009 @ 10:41 PM

In his second inaugural speech last week, Mayor Villaraigosa outlined his five goals for Los Angeles:

  1. Job creation;
  2. Put L.A. on a path to permanently break our dependence on coal;
  3. Build a sustainable future;
  4. Keep L.A. on track as one of the safest big cities in America; and
  5. Shut down failing schools and reconstitute them.

Here is the portion of the mayor's remarks devoted to Item No. 4:

Our fourth goal for the next four years is to keep L.A. on track as one of the safest big cities in America. As I've said many times before, public safety is the first obligation of government.

It's the foundation for everything we are trying to build, the context for economic growth, the setting for good jobs and a brighter future, the building blocks of a strong, thriving community.

Today, crime is down across the board in virtually every neighborhood.

It's important to remember that our security begins with our men and women in uniform. They confront danger every day so that we don't have to. They stand today on every corner in every community in our city in historic numbers approaching 10,000 strong.

Their sacrifice is the bedrock of our safety. Their service is the cornerstone of our security. Their commitment and courage are the foundation for our prosperity. And in the next four years, I will fight day and night to keep all 10,000 officers on the job. Keep our police force at its highest level in history!

Today, we are blessed to have some of the bravest Angelenos with us. They're ordinary men and women committed to an extraordinary task. As officers and firefighters, they live at the front lines of tragedy. They face danger daily with equal measures of courage and humility. They are the LAPD Medal of Valor winners and the firefighters who took charge in the Metrolink disaster and in the fires of last autumn. I couldn't be prouder to recognize these outstanding public servants!

Our commitment to these heroes will remain steady and unwavering. But in the long term, we know that law enforcement alone can't get the job done. We know investment in policing must be matched by our investment in the next generation. And in the next four years, we are going to get even tougher on the root causes of crime.

We are pleased the Mayor recognizes that our city's security begins with men and women of the LAPD. We agree with his summation that Los Angeles "can be safer and stronger than ever." That is why we accept his challenge to "roll up your sleeves with me, Los Angeles!" You can watch the mayor's speech by clicking here. It is recommended viewing for all LAPPL members.

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Pending state budget bill calls for over $808 million in public safety cuts

By Paul M. Weber on 07/06/2009 @ 01:28 PM

One of the bills pending in Sacramento to address the state’s $24 billion budget deficit begs close attention by those of us in law enforcement and public safety. ABX3 10, which would reduce the amount of general fund money directed towards public safety by $808.6 million, was passed by the state senate last week and is pending in the assembly as lawmakers return to Sacramento today. The reductions would occur in three major areas of state-run agencies as follows:

     Proposed reductions for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

  • Prison/parole reforms: $110.9 million. Allows certain inmates (such as the elderly or those with medical conditions) who have 12 months or less remaining on their sentences, to serve their remaining time under house arrest, with GPS monitoring.
  • Early release: $182.1 million. Includes release of undocumented workers into federal custody and early release of inmates categorized as low risk.
  • Sentencing changes: $99.9 million. Makes misdemeanor/felonies or “wobblers” straight misdemeanors and adjusts property crime thresholds.
  • Programmatic reductions and associated operational savings/reductions: $322.6 million. Reduces some rehabilitative services, eliminates most infrastructure repairs and calls for administrative changes.

    Proposed reductions for the California Department of Justice

  • Reduces the DOJ’s Bureau of Narcotics enforcement by $20 million.
  • Charges local law enforcement agencies fees for the use of DOJ forensic laboratories, with a total cost to local law enforcement of $20 million.

    Proposed reductions for the California judiciary

  • Closes the courts for one day per month, shifts funds to other programs, increases court fees and provides “cost controls” for trial court security: $168 million.

These changes at the state level will have real consequences for local law enforcement agencies, serving as a reminder of how state and local government budgets are intertwined – and why what happens at the state capitol often impacts us as deeply as what happens at city hall.

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4th of July Holiday

By Kristi Sandoval on 07/04/2009 @ 08:41 AM

Happy 4th of July

As our nation prepares to celebrate our 233rd Independence Day, we pause to reflect on the origin of the holiday, and the liberty that it symbolizes.

It is also a time to express our gratitude to the generations of courageous Americans who have defended us at home and abroad, and who continue to serve our country in law enforcement, public safety and the military.

The 4th is one way we celebrate appreciation for country, community and those that serve to protect our freedom. Take a moment to read a terrific article about the celebration of the birth of our nation and police officers who sacrifice so much everyday to protect and serve our country. Click here to read the story: http://www.policeone.com/patrol-issues/articles/1851847-On-July-4th-a-wake-up-call-for-American-cops/

On behalf of the Officers and Directors of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, I wish you a Happy Fourth of July. Thank you for your unwavering commitment to serving our City, protecting its residents and doing your part to preserve our country’s freedom.

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