Confidential information of 250 officers released by mistake?

Confidential LAPD misconduct file

mistakenly posted on the Internet

A clerical error is blamed for the disclosure, which violates the Police Commission’s own privacy policy, and perhaps state law.

By Joel Rubin Los Angeles Times

The Los Angeles Police Commission violated its own strict privacy policy — and perhaps state law — on Friday, releasing a confidential report on the Internet that contained the names of hundreds of officers accused of racial profiling and other misconduct.

The blunder, which police officials attributed to a clerical error, marks an embarrassing misstep for a police department that has staunchly rebuffed efforts by the public to learn the identities of accused officers and gain greater access to the discipline process.

“This was an unfortunate mistake,” said Richard Tefank, executive director of the civilian oversight body. “The Police Commission will work with the Police department to insure that it does not happen again.”

An electronic version of the report, which was disseminated to members of the news media in an e-mail and posted to the city’s website, included the names of about 250 officers recently investigated by the LAPD’s Internal Affairs Group over allegations that they used a person’s race to justify a traffic or pedestrian stop.

The commission and department staff had reviewed an earlier paper copy of the report that did not contain the confidential information and assumed the electronic version would be the same, Tefank said.

The Los Angeles Police Department has sparred for years with news media organizations and other 1st Amendment groups over the question of the public’s access to police discipline proceedings.

After a state Supreme Court decision, the department in 2006 sharply curtailed a long-standing policy in which discipline hearings were open and officers’ names released. Citing the opinion of City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo that such transparency would violate state law, the department and commission now make only anonymous summaries of discipline cases available.

In the court case, Copley Press Inc. vs. Superior Court of San Diego County, the court prohibited public disclosure of personnel records of a sheriff’s deputy appealing his discipline to a civil service commission.

Delgadillo’s office declined to comment on the possible legal consequences that the LAPD could face because of the privacy breach.

Tom Newton, general counsel for the California Newspaper Publishers Assn., said the inadvertent release of the officers’ names underscores the importance of the public having access to police discipline matters.

“These are facts gathered by professionals in a public institution,” he said. “Now that these names are out, there may be important stories that can be told.”

Word of the report sent the department and commission into damage-control mode. The website was taken down within an hour while representatives from the commission and Police Chief William J. Bratton’s command staff called the president of the union that represents the department’s 9,500 rank-and-file officers to apologize.

Union officials have fought fiercely to keep officers’ personal information private, saying its release could jeopardize officer safety. Recently, it has tried to block a new department policy that requires some officers to disclose personal financial information, saying the department cannot be trusted to keep the information safe.

“This is outrageous, absolutely outrageous,” said Paul M. Weber, president of the Police Protective League. “It confirms our concern that the department cannot protect its own employees. This is confidential information.”

He said the union plans to file a lawsuit against the department over the matter.

joel.rubin@latimes.com

 

Financial Disclosure Wrong for Los Angeles

Below is an article which appeared in the Los Angeles Times on August 23, 2008.

 

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/crime/la-me-disclosure23-2008aug23,0,1184340.story

 

The issue is regarding the Financial Disclosure demands the Police Commission and the Chief are imposing on Officers who work the gangs and narcotics units.

 

As a community advocate and advocate for fair and just treatment of our men and women in Blue, I have been following this issue very closely. Having attended several Commission Meetings and City Council meetings where this was discussed and testimony heard, I am convinced those forcing this action fall into two camps.

 

First are the Commissioners, who with the exception of one have no clue what they are doing. They are merely reacting on preconceived prejudices against authority (except their authority). This has become a personal battle of egos.

 

Next there are those who know without a doubt that these policies will do nothing to prevent corruption but favor any action which might resolve the Consent Decree demands. They care not of any of the consequences to Public Safety.

 

In reality both are in error. In listening to them speak, they never miss and opportunity to demonstrate their ignorance of the motion they either voted to implement or are expounding in their bloated rhetoric.

 

Whether it is the lack of knowledge of the far reaching requirements and imposition on the Civil Rights of the police and their families or the ability to force the officers to comply, no one except the Los Angeles Police Protective League has a clear grasp of the situation.

 

With the Judge believing he as a former Prosecutor has more experience than the men and women of the Police Protective League and the District Attorney, it is clear this decision must be appealed!

 

Just who are the Board members of the Police Protective League?  Here is a link to their web site. You be the Judge, think they have enough experience to make a rational decision on the real consequences of the Financial Disclosure issue.

 

http://www.lapd.com/about/bod/

 

Now take a look at the Homicide Data for Los Angeles and tell me where the Police Commission should be forcing their efforts

  http://lang.dailynews.com/socal/homicides/?appSession=558113446220475&RecordID=&PageID=2&PrevPageID=&cpipage=1&CPISortType=&CPIorderBy=

 

 

In Your corner and in their corner,

 

David Hernandez

 

 

 

 

Police Commission -Police Profiling

The Los Angeles Police Commission is engaging in

Police Profiling

 

On many occasions I believed it was in the best interests of the residents of Los Angeles for me to attend meetings of the Los Angeles Police Commission.

 

Residing in the San Fernando Valley I made the morning pilgrimage to Downtown Los Angeles. (Imagine the freeway traffic at 8:00AM). Once reaching my destination I found a suitable parking site which put me in walking distance to the meeting location. ($8.00 for parking).

 

The police commission meets the Parker Center 150 No. Los Angeles Street, Los Angeles. As you enter the police building you must first check in at the front desk. This requires you produce ID and then sign in. After passing through a metal detector you are good to go!

 

Pick up a copy of the agenda and once you find you item of concern, you fill out a speaker card to get your two minutes to address the Commissioners.

 

All of the above was the easy part.

 

You then get to sit and watch the process unfold before your very eyes.

 

I had the privilege to be at the meeting where the LAPD’s report on Racial Profiling Complaints was presented to the Commissioners.

 

In spite of intensive and extensive investigations, no substantial evidence was found to validate any of the complaints.

In spite of conducting the investigation under the scrutiny of the Federal Consent Decree, no valid evidence was found.

 

The report gave the Commission a clear bill of health on the department in the area of Racial Profiling. 

 

Instead of praising the efforts of the Department and the professional police work of the men and women in Blue, the Commission took the low road.

 

The political and activists roots of the Commissioners filled the room with the odor of distrust and contempt for the Police.

 

With the exception of one Commissioner, all others expressed disbelief that no officers were found guilty of the charge.  After all they were police officers; they must have committed the offense. The investigations were called into question because; after all it was the Police who conducted them!

 

So not only are the commissioners alleging Racial Profiling but a Police Cover UP as well.

 

With absolutely no evidence and solely based on sheer contempt and distrust, the Commission is ready for a witch hunt or even worse a lynching!

 

No Evidence of wrong doing was seen as it was there, but not found.

 

Even though investigations have been conducted by several agencies, the result was the same, NO Evidence of Racial Profiling!

 

 

With the professionalism of an elementary school playground monitor, the Commission has concocted a solution to their quandary, Mediation. Mediation? yes mediation.

Sort of like going to the principal’s office and getting at the true feelings which were responsible for the unsportsmanlike behavior.

 

Here is the picture for those of you still in your seats.

 

Street thugs and gang members know that all complaints against police officers are logged in and become a permanent part of the Officers record. Whether proven or not, valid or not, imagined or real, they are a part of the Officers File. As a result gang members intentionally file complaints against officers who interfere with their criminal activities. Get enough complaints and who needs evidence? Where there is smoke there is fire, right?  WRONG!

 

Now the Police Commission wants the Officer, a Supervisor and the person filing the complaint to hear their sides of the story.

 

As the commission put it, the people may even get and apology…

 

What is the Officer going to get? Will that complaint be removed form her file? Who will be representing the Officers best interest?

 

Clearly it is not the Commission and as we have seen in the recent past, it is not the Chief or Command Staff.  Since the LAPD has become a political football, reduced to doing the bidding of Politicians and being the firs line of sacrifice, we are residents must stand up for justice of our men and women in Blue.

 

Contact the Police Commission and voice your objection to this Mediation Policy. Here is a link to the Commission, just click on the Presidents link and Mr. Mack link and send them an e-mail. If you can find a fax or telephone number, follow up as well.

http://www.lapdonline.org/police_commission

 

Thank You,

David Hernandez

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank You to Legislators

Thank you for your vote in opposition to SB 1019.  By standing up to a very vocal minority, you showed honor, integrity and great personal courage as a legislator. 

 

Police officers are men and women who serve the cause of justice daily.  When thousands of brave California law enforcement officers take the oath to serve and protect their fellow citizens, they answer a vital calling and accept a profound responsibility.  We stand in admiration and gratitude for their service.

 

That is why our organization is so thankful that you voted against Senator Romero’s SB 1019.  We agree that proper oversight is essential to preventing and punishing police misconduct, but officers who have not been charged with a crime should not have their reputations tainted.  In many communities, including Los Angeles, independent citizen commissions have proven successful in holding confidential hearings on police discipline ensuring peace officers are held accountable while also protecting their privacy and safety.

 

We hope that this latest defeat of SB 1019 ends the legislature’s attempt to overturn the California Supreme Court and State Constitution, which protect the confidentiality of peace officer personnel records. We appreciate your strong leadership and hope you will now be allowed to return your attention to the state budget, economy and other important legislative priorities. 

 

Very truly yours,

 

 

LAPD UNDER ATTACK AGAIN

Senator pushes second bill aimed at opening LAPD

discipline records

Sen. Gloria Romero says L.A.’s mayor supports her bill, which would allow greater public access to records from disciplinary hearings. The police union staunchly opposes it.

By Joel Rubin
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

June 17, 2008

A state senator hopes to revive a controversial bill that would increase media access to disciplinary hearings and records involving Los Angeles Police Department officers.

The legislation, according to Sen. Gloria Romero (D-Los Angeles), was encouraged by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and has already generated sharp criticism from the union that represents LAPD officers.

Last year, Romero sponsored similar, yet more far-reaching, legislation that sought to overturn a state Supreme Court ruling that effectively barred law enforcement agencies from releasing personnel information.

The legislation passed the Senate, but stalled in the Assembly’s public safety committee. Members of the panel refused to discuss it or vote on it after leaders from several influential law enforcement unions spoke vociferously against it.

Union leaders argued that the law would endanger police officers’ lives by making it easier for disgruntled members of the public to track them down — although they could not cite cases in which officers had suffered such harm before the Supreme Court’s ruling, when the public enjoyed greater access to disciplinary information.

This time, the legislation targets the LAPD only.

The Committee on Public Safety is scheduled to hear the amended bill June 24.

If approved the legislation will permit, but not require, the LAPD to return to its disclosure policies before the Supreme Court’s decision in Copley Press Inc. vs. Superior Court of San Diego County. In that case, the court prohibited public disclosure of personnel records of a sheriff’s deputy appealing his discipline to a civil service commission.

After that ruling, LAPD officials imposed a far stricter policy, denying public access to disciplinary hearings that traditionally had been open and removing officers’ names from discipline records.

Word of Romero’s bill infuriated leaders of the Police Protective League, the union that represents the LAPD’s 9,300 rank-and-file officers.

Tim Sands, the group’s president, called the gambit a “legislative temper tantrum” on the senator’s part and said state unions would again present a unified front before the committee next week.

“If she is doing this with the idea that she can divide and conquer us, she is making a very big mistake,” he said.

The union Monday quickly pulled together a biting radio advertisement directed at Romero and the bill.

Romero said the decision to narrow the bill’s scope came after Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa told her that he would back the effort.

Last year, Villaraigosa and LAPD Police Chief William J. Bratton voiced strong public support for the original bill after a disciplinary panel secretly exonerated an officer involved in a high-profile shooting, even though the civilian Police Commission, which oversees the LAPD, had said the officer should be punished.

Romero and Villaraigosa discussed the issue at a recent meeting in Sacramento, where the mayor told Romero “that he wanted to get Los Angeles back to where it had been for three decades,” she recalled. Romero said she had not spoken to Bratton about the bill.

Neither the mayor, who is in Israel, nor Bratton could be reached for comment.

joel.rubin@latimes.com





Federal judge halts financial disclosure for LAPD officers

Federal judge halts financial disclosure for LAPD officers

Daily News Wire Services

Article Last Updated: 06/13/2008 06:07:28 PM PDT

A federal judge today granted a request by the Los Angeles Police Protective League to halt implementation of a city policy that would require LAPD anti-gang and narcotics officers to disclose their personal finances.

U.S. District Judge Gary Feess agreed to the temporary restraining order and scheduled the matter for a July 7 hearing. The policy had been scheduled to take effect Sunday.

“We are gratified that the judge understood the harm that could be caused by implementing financial disclosure before the matter has had its day in court,” said LAPPL President Tim Sands.

A spokesman for the City Attorney’s Office said he could not comment on pending litigation.

The financial disclosure policy, which is intended to prevent corruption among police officers who handle confiscated cash and contraband, is required by a federal consent decree under which the Los Angeles Police Department must operate.

Under the policy, officers in anti-gang and narcotics units would be required to disclose all of their sole and jointly owned assets, liabilities and income every two years. Refusal to disclose such information would bar officers from working in those units.

The LAPD anticipated that the policy would apply to about 600 officers.

Eight years ago. the city of Los Angeles agree to have the LAPD be overseen by a court-appointed federal monitor, a move that forestalled a U.S. Justice Department lawsuit that would have alleged a pattern of civil rights discrimination

 

Don’t Fix LAPD SWAT-Tim Sands

Don’t ‘fix’ LAPD SWAT

By Tim Sands, Columnist

President Police Protective League

MOST people subscribe to the adage that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Apparently, that well-known nugget of common sense has escaped the Los Angeles Police Department and the hand-picked panel of lawyers and others unfamiliar with police tactics assembled to review Los Angeles Police SWAT.

Unfortunately, this lack of common sense is going to have dire consequences. In the business world, leaders often hire outside consultants to advise them to take actions those leaders have already decided on taking. Should the actions fail, the leaders then get to blame the consultants. The same game is played in the public sector, except that politicians usually commission a “panel of experts” rather than hiring outside consultants. The experts’ recommendations are, however, no less preordained.

 The SWAT report and recommendations of the panel have yet to be released. Perhaps LAPD officials are embarrassed that they only included one person with any familiarity with police tactics on their panel. What is known is that despite the department’s refusal to be transparent and let the recommendations be critically examined by the public, changes based on those recommendations are already being implemented.

Police Chief William Bratton let panelists know from the start that he “is looking to create change within SWAT.” The panel’s report came back 15 months ago, but to this day it is officially under secret departmental cover.

But a leaked copy in the Los Angeles Times confirmed that – surprise, surprise – the panel decided the chief was exactly right. The department’s hand-picked experts concluded that SWAT has become “insular, self-referential and resistant to change,” and that SWAT’s selection criteria “underemphasized negotiating skills, patience, empathy and flexibility while overemphasizing physical prowess and tactical acumen.”

Was there some evidence for these striking conclusions? We don’t know. The LAPD’s new emphasis on “transparency” does not, it appears, so far extend to the work of this special group of “experts.” For over three decades, LAPD SWAT has handled thousands of incidents successfully, and achieved a worldwide reputation for excellence.

Notwithstanding that SWAT is called in only when a police incident has escalated in danger, the department demanded to know if the barriers to becoming a member of the SWAT team were “too stringent.”

Bratton also identified the lack of turnover in the unit as one of his concerns. Since the panel’s make-up left it unable to intelligently debate or review SWAT tactics and procedures, the focus became the “face” of SWAT. It is known, for example, that the panel called for “greater gender and racial diversity,” and the lowering of the rigorous physical and reaction standards for selection to SWAT.

 The department’s panel has envisioned a “new” SWAT. This SWAT would emphasize “negotiating skill, empathy, patience and flexibility.” These are important qualities, but they should not be the basis for determining fitness for SWAT.

The less-desirable qualities of a SWAT officer, the panel concluded, should be “physical prowess and tactical acumen.” In fact, the panel’s recommendations sounds like a job description for desk-bound lawyers. However, in the real world of barricaded suspects and hostage situations, we aren’t sending in lawyers – oftentimes the LAPD is forced to send in trained SWAT officers, and “empathy” isn’t often a key ingredient for their success. SWAT isn’t an organization that needed to be “fixed.” SWAT has performed its function with tremendous success for more than 30 years.

 The overriding question that should have been answered before changes were made was: Will these changes make a successful unit even better? The answer clearly is “no.”

The next real and very troubling question is this: How many officers will have to get hurt or die in this experiment before the department admits its mistake, and assembles another panel of “experts” to evaluate SWAT?