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Sheriff’s Dispatcher’s Performance During Big Bear Shootout

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 02/15/2013 @ 12:12 PM

The past week has been emotionally wrenching for all Southern California law enforcement personnel. While we responded to the inhumane and morally indefensible violence caused by disgraced former officer Christopher Dorner, we joined with the entire community in expressing our grief. As our thoughts and prayers are now offered to families and friends of those whose lives were taken so suddenly, we also want to thank the unsung Sheriff’s dispatcher whose actions lessened the death toll and helped scores of officers and deputies in harm’s way during the shootout in Big Bear.

Listening to the police radio traffic of the Big Bear shootout, you hear, “pop, pop, pop. pop, pop.” There are too many shots to count. Several minutes into the radio traffic, you can hear, the female dispatcher broadcast, “Shots fired. Officer down.” Later, a second, “Officer down,” followed by, “Automatic fire coming in-bound,” and “Officers still down in the kill zone,” can be heard.

The chilling audiotape makes one thing clear: the civilian dispatcher did an outstanding job. She performed flawlessly during this critical tactical incident. Her calm and professionalism most certainly saved officer lives. Being a police dispatcher is harder than most people think. In this case, the dispatcher fulfilled her duties with unfailing focus, composure and expertise.

The incident underscores the essential role played by the dedicated emergency services dispatchers nationwide. These behind-the-scene professionals constitute a vital link to police officers every time officers leave their stations. Our dispatchers are always listening; we are always reliant upon them to broadcast our locations, respond to our routine requests, and when we need it, they become our lifeline.

We gratefully acknowledge the efforts and essential contribution of all emergency services dispatchers, but especially the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s dispatcher for her work during this harrowing siege.

UPDATE: We have received unverified comments below that indicate the Dispatcher's name was Elaine Barrie. Elaine's husband is an active Deputy Sheriff and apparently was en route to assist in this incident. She apparently did not find out until later that he was safe. We believe that makes her calm and professional demeanor even that much more remarkable.

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

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Caution urged in limiting law enforcement’s access to email

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 02/13/2013 @ 04:51 PM

The Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) passed by Congress back in 1986 requires police to obtain a subpoena issued without a judge’s approval to read remotely stored emails that have been opened or that are more than 180 days old. But the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Patrick Leahy, doesn’t think that’s sufficient. He wants to “update” the act to require law enforcement to obtain a warrant before obtaining stored emails and other forms of electronic communication.

Leahy tried unsuccessfully late last year to attach his email privacy measure to a video deregulation bill, but Republicans blocked it due to concerns that the requirement would impede police investigations.

Technology companies such as Google are lobbying to change the law to require a search warrant before turning over content to law enforcement. Google said it gets about 1,400 requests a month from U.S. authorities for users’ emails and documents. It wants the content stored on cloud services to have the same legal protection as documents stored on a hard drive or in a filing cabinet. Twitter, meanwhile, reported that requests from governments worldwide for information about its users increased nearly 20 percent in the second half of 2012.

Sen. Chuck Grassley recently said, “While I agree with the business and privacy groups that there is merit to harmonizing the legal requirements for obtaining emails with a search warrant, we would be abdicating our duty if we did not examine the concerns raised by federal, state, and local law enforcement.”

If the act does indeed need revisions to reflect advances in technology over the past quarter century, such revisions need to be carefully considered so law enforcement agencies can continue to readily obtain the information they need to fight crime, and so investigations aren’t slowed or impeded. Senator Grassley may have said it best when he noted, “we should work to ensure we strike the proper balance between privacy and safety – just as we did in 1986 when we first passed ECPA.”

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

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Public safety gets top billing in 2013 California Legislature

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 02/11/2013 @ 12:07 PM

A wave of new bills was introduced as California lawmakers reconvened at the State Capitol on Jan. 7 to start their legislative year. A number of them are of particular interest to law enforcement and deserve a close watch.

We applaud Senator Ted W. Lieu of Los Angeles for introducing a bill making it a felony for parolees to cut off GPS-aided ankle bracelets. Lieu cited data showing a two-thirds jump in parolees who illegally remove ankle-mounted monitoring bracelets.

“An increasing number of California parolees are cutting off their GPS monitoring devices because they’re convinced little will happen to them,” Lieu said in press release explaining the need for Senate Bill 57. “By making this crime a new felony, we can only hope these former prisoners, most of them either convicted sex offenders or hard-core gang members, will have second thoughts to roaming freely among the public with zero oversight.”

Senator Noreen Evans meanwhile, moved quickly to propose other needed legislation that would update a 1870s rape provision to cover impersonation of other bedmates. A man impersonated his female victim’s boyfriend in order to have sex with her while she was sleeping. His conviction was overturned by a state appeals court in Los Angeles earlier this month on the technicality that current law only allows someone to be convicted for rape for impersonating a spouse.

SB 59 will change the word “spouse” to “sexually intimate partner,” expanding the definition from what Senator Evans calls “an arcane law that could let a rapist go free. “Rape is a violent crime that should be punished to the fullest extent of the law,” said Evans. “Justice cannot be conditioned on the victim’s marital status.”

As you might expect several new bills were introduced in an effort to crack down on guns and ammunition in the wake of last month's massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., where 20 children and six adults were killed. This is part of a trend on the local, state and federal levels to try to make substantive changes in gun laws while public interest is high.

Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner proposed Assembly Bill 48 requiring sellers of ammunition to be licensed and for purchasers to show identification. The Department of Justice would be required to notify local law enforcement of large-quantity purchases over a five-day period by an individual who is not a peace officer. It would also ban the manufacture, sale or import of any device that enables a gun to fire more than 10 rounds at one time.

Last month, Sen. Kevin de León proposed legislation to require ammunition buyers to purchase annual permits that would cost about $50. The process would include a yearly background check. Sen. Ted Gaines, R-Rocklin, proposed a measure to permanently prohibit various mentally ill Californians from ever buying a firearm.

Last year, some 800 laws were enacted by the California Legislature and signed into law. That suggests the bills introduced in the first two weeks of the new year are just the beginning of a robust legislative session for 2013. We shall keep a close eye on legislation pertaining to law enforcement.

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

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Clearing the way to change a bad law

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 01/07/2013 @ 02:11 PM

A friend of law enforcement in the California Legislature, Senator Ted Lieu, turned to Twitter to call attention to a California Senate policy long in need of change. We are glad he did.

Senator Lieu’s tweet was prompted by a case in which a rapist was set free on a technicality. The Assembly tried to fix the problem in 2011 but the legislation to do that died in the Senate Public Safety committee because of the ROCA policy.

“ROCA (Receivership/Overcrowding Crisis Aggravation) was started by Senator Gloria Romero in 2007,” Lieu said in a follow-up email to the LAPPL. “She essentially held up every single bill that might increase a felon’s prison time by even one day.

“Her reasoning was that this was necessary to alleviate prison overcrowding. One problem is that ROCA is a blanket approach that does not distinguish between a rapist and a drug user, or a murderer and a thief. Regardless of the heinousness of the crime, any new felony or increase in penalties will never even be allowed to come up for a vote.”

The issue came to light anew on January 2 when the 2nd District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles cited a 19th century law in overturning the conviction of Julio Morales, who in 2009 had entered a darkened bedroom where a woman was sleeping and had sex with her. The 18-year-old woman said she initially mistook the defendant for her boyfriend, who had left earlier, but resisted when she realized it wasn’t him. Police said Morales admitted the woman probably wrongly assumed he was her boyfriend.

The 1872 law says that obtaining sex with another person by trickery is rape only if the victim is married and if the man pretends to be her husband. The court said it ruled reluctantly and appealed to the Legislature to change the law. Another court also put the Legislature on notice of the law’s anomaly 30 years ago, but legislators failed to act, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Changing this law should be a high priority of the new legislative session in Sacramento. The ROCA policy of the Senate that has gotten in the way of rationalizing California’s Penal Code must be set aside to allow it to happen.

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

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L.A. in 2013: Public safety on the line

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 01/03/2013 @ 11:23 AM

The new year is shaping up to be a momentous one in our city’s history with public safety on the line.

For only the third time in 75 years, no incumbent will be on the ballot for mayor in 2013. In addition to electing a successor to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who leaves office June 30, voters will determine whether the current city attorney keeps his office, pick a new controller and elect a majority of the City Council.

The stakes have never been higher. The outcome will serve as a leading indicator of the value L.A. residents place on public safety by putting in office those candidates clearly committed to putting public safety first. The LAPPL, of course, will play a leading role in determining who those candidates are and then working to get them elected.

L.A. closed out 2012 with an overall 2 percent reduction in crime, according to LAPD data reported by the Los Angeles Times. The good news was a decrease in serious crimes such as robbery, assault and auto thefts. Drilling into the data revealed small increases in homicides and thefts from vehicles and persons. Many observers cite prisoner realignment as a probable culprit for the uptick in petty thefts.

Another statistic that warrants everyone’s attention is hit-and-runs. According to an eye-opening L.A. Weekly report, 11 percent of vehicle collisions in the U.S. are hit-and-runs. But in Los Angeles, the percentage was four times greater than that in 2009 (the most recent year for which complete statistics are available).

The Weekly cited data collected by the state showing about 4,000 hit-and-run crashes a year inside L.A. city limits, including cases handled by LAPD, California Highway Patrol and the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department. While law enforcement has a role in addressing this problem, other agencies – including LADOT, Public Works and Caltrans – need to assess what they can do and take appropriate preventative action.

Many large cities across America are seeing year-over-year increases in crime. How much longer L.A.’s decade-long drop in crime can continue will in no small measure relate to the outcome of the 2013 city elections and the restoration of full funding of the Police Department. More than ever, city government must be aligned for putting public safety first in its policies and budget priorities.

We wish all law-abiding people of Los Angeles a safe, healthy and prosperous new year.

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

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Threat to public safety by unlicensed drivers confirmed by DMV study

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 12/28/2012 @ 10:09 AM

EDWARD BYRNE Rookie slain in 1988.

We’ve been warning for a long time that suspended or revoked and unlicensed drivers were a public safety menace. That’s why we opposed the LAPD directive not to impound for 30 days vehicles of unlicensed drivers. The politics-above-public-safety policy puts innocent people at risk of being injured and killed on Los Angeles streets.

City officials choose not to believe the very police officers who investigate vehicle crashes in Los Angeles and instituted a policy that ignores state law. Perhaps they now will listen to the DMV.

The LAPPL welcomes new study by the California Department of Motor Vehicles, “Fatal Crash Rates for Suspended/Revoked and Unlicensed Drivers,” which found suspended or revoked and unlicensed drivers are much more reckless on the road than validly licensed drivers. The study found that unlicensed drivers are nearly three times more likely to cause a fatal crash than licensed drivers. The study also found that unlicensed drivers are more hazardous than drivers with suspended or revoked licenses. Some of the key findings of the DMV study are:

  • Compared to validly licensed drivers, suspended, revoked and unlicensed drivers are 2.60 and 2.73 times more likely to cause a fatal crash relative to their exposure.
  • The largest percentage of suspended, revoked and unlicensed drivers involved in fatal, two-vehicle crashes is those aged 20 to 29.
  • For drivers aged 19 or younger in fatal, two-vehicle crashes, the percentage that consisted of unlicensed drivers was almost four times higher than the percentage that was suspended or revoked.
  • The actual number of unlicensed drivers in California is unknown because these drivers are unknown to the DMV until they are involved in a crash or convicted of a traffic violation.

There are two fundamental reasons why vehicle impounding of unlicensed drivers is smart law enforcement. First, an unlicensed driver willing to ignore the law is, at least temporarily, less likely to further violate this law because he or she will not have access to the impounded vehicle. Second, the cost and inconvenience of recovering an impounded vehicle discourages people without licenses from driving. That is precisely why the state legislature enacted the 30-day hold law.

Don Rosenberg started the website “Unlicensed to kill” to bring attention to the horrendous problem of unlicensed drivers after his son Drew was killed by Roberto Galo, an unlicensed driver. His traffic safety whitepaper details the issue and points out that last year 7,500 people were killed by unlicensed drivers. Rosenberg was the first to point out that nationally, 11 percent of all police reported crashes involve a hit-and-run collision, while in Los Angeles, 44 percent of all traffic collisions are due to hit-and-runs.

LA Weekly’s excellent investigation “L.A.’s Bloody Hit-and-Run Epidemic” exposed what they call an epidemic of hit-and-run crashes in the City of Los Angeles and which number over 20,000 a year. According to the story, nearly half of all the crashes in L.A. are hit-and-runs.

LA’s policy of skirting state law substantially reduces the disincentives against the unlicensed and unlawful operation of a vehicle. It is our hope that in the new year, the DMV study will be the impetus for city officials to revisit this issue and in so doing, show that they are serious about putting public safety first.

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

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Realignment: The need for fixes continues

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 12/05/2012 @ 04:56 PM

Jose Luis Saenz was taken into custody Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012.

Jose Luis Saenz was taken into custody Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012.

On Thanksgiving, a specialized group of police officers, the FBI and Mexican authorities were able to capture a dangerous fugitive, Jose Luis Saenz, in Guadalajara, Mexico. Saenz, an American citizen, who had vowed to murder police officers, was arrested without incident and extradited back to the United States.

Jose Luis Saenz is a hard-core gang member who has a long history of violence, with several prison sentences. Shortly after being paroled in 1998, parole agents issued an arrest warrant for Saenz for failing to show up for parole supervision - again. A few months later, LAPD Hollenbeck Detectives notified parole agents that Saenz was a named suspect for the murders of two rival gang members on July 25, 1998. Less than three weeks after that, Saenz was again named as a murder suspect for the rape and killing of his girlfriend.

Fast forward to 2008, and Saenz was yet again named as a suspect in the murder of Oscar Torres in Whittier, a killing apparently captured on videotape. Wanted for four murders, Saenz made the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted” list in 2009.

So how is someone on the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted” list discharged from parole several months before he’s actually captured? As a result of realignment legislation, the Division of Adult Parole Operations is now making the conscious decision to discharge thousands of parolees who have new arrest warrants if the crime that originally sent them to prison was for low-level, non-violent criminal offenses, even if these parolees are now wanted for a violent crime(s). This was the case with Jose Luis Saenz, who was discharged from parole on August 17, 2012.

The Los Angeles Police Protective League has warned the community that realignment would result in mass discharges of very dangerous felons and the deaths of innocent individuals. While realignment was enacted years after Saenz was first wanted, what justification does the Parole Department have for discharging Saenz in August, when he’s still wanted for killing four people?

As we have said before, one common-sense fix is to evaluate who is eligible for “realignment” based an inmate’s total arrest and conviction record – not merely the last offense for which he or she is incarcerated. The other flaws, unfortunately, will only continue to surface as more people fall victim to those who, just over a year ago, were appropriately housed in state prisons.

And when people are as bad as Jose Luis Saenz, law enforcement should have every tool to catch them and keep them from hurting someone else, without the flaws in the corrections system working against them.

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

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Thank you, Officer DePrimo – An inspiration to us all

By LAPPL Board of Directors on 12/03/2012 @ 02:44 PM

Officer Lawrence DePrimo bought new boots for a homeless man he encountered in Times Square. (Photo: Jennifer Foster)

Officer Lawrence DePrimo bought new boots for a homeless man he encountered in Times Square. (Photo: Jennifer Foster)

An all-too-common story is that of a passerby who uses his cell phone to catch a cop in an unflattering light. The social media world then picks up the picture, and it goes viral. But this time, the story is different. This time, the passerby took a picture that captured an act of kindness that reflects positively on police officers everywhere and inspires us all.

The picture – taken by Jennifer Foster, a tourist from Arizona, on an extremely cold night in Times Square – showed NYPD Officer Lawrence DePrimo giving a pair of boots to a barefoot older homeless man, Jeffrey Hillman. The officer was on counterterrorism duty when he spotted Mr. Hillman without shoes sitting on 42nd Street. The officer walked to a Skechers store and paid $75 (the store manager gave him the employee discount) for insulated winter boots and thermal socks.

When he returned to Mr. Hillman, he knelt down to put the footwear on him. Just then, the tourist snapped the photo. The image, initially posted on the NYPD’s Facebook page, became an instant hit. More than 600,000 users “liked” what they saw. Officer DePrimo found himself in great demand for interviews by news media outlets around the world.

“It was freezing out, and you could see the blisters on the man’s feet,” 25-year-old DePrimo, a three-year veteran of the department who lives with his parents on Long Island, told The New York Times. “I had two pairs of socks, and I was still cold.”

While New York Times reported this week that Mr. Hillman was spotted this week wandering the streets again with no shoes, we’d like to echo Mr. Hillman’s sentiment when he thanked Officer DePrimo and said, “I wish there were more people like him in the world.”

Even though they may not be recorded by cell phones, similar acts of kindness happen every day. One example here in Los Angeles also involves shoes. The LAPD’s Olympic Station is collecting shoes for underprivileged school-aged children in Operation Shoes from Santa. Hundreds of pairs of shoes have been dropped off in bins at the Olympic Area Watch Commander’s Office. On the evening of December 20, LAPD officers and Santa will distribute the shoes at the LAPD Olympic Station.

We recognize and commend our colleague in New York for inspiring people across our nation – and not just police officers – to practice acts of kindness. There is no better time of year to keep an eye out for the sometimes unexpected opportunities to do just that.

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

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