Clarity begins to surface in spite of Media Bias

Los Angeles Police Department 

The Financial Disclosure Chronicles

 “Clarity begins to surface in spite of media bias against LAPD”

David Hernandez Community Advocate 

It is not the Consent Decrees Financial Disclosure which is being challenged, it is the Order passed by the Police Commission. 

Thanks to the leadership of Los Angeles City Council members Jack Weiss and Janice Hahn, the Financial Disclosure Order passed by the LA Police Commission was sent to the Public Safety Committee of the Los Angeles City Council. 

The Public Safety Committee is comprised of five Los Angeles City Council members, Jack Weiss, the Chair, Greg Smith, Bernard Parks, Ed Reyes, and Dennis Zine.

 The first meeting of the Public Safety Committee took place in council chambers on January 24, 2008. This meeting was open to the public and was subject to Brown Act requirements. Council member Wendy Gruel also sat in for most of the meeting even though she is not on the committee. Members of the Los Angeles Police Department, Representatives of the Police Commission and the Los Angeles Police Protective League also attended and gave testimony. The Los Angeles City Attorneys office was also represented. 

The first to give testimony was Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley. He addressed several issues including the effectiveness of Financial Disclosure in detecting police corruption. He stated it was not effective and offered several alternatives.  He also concurred that the Order passed by the Police Commission would have an end result of more gang crime and presents a real danger to the community. He could see the officers impacted by the order choosing not to continue in the units if such a threat to their family’s safety was allowed to be enforced.

 District Attorney also brought up the point that the Consent Decree can not violate State Law and in doing so would be grounds for legal action by the City of Los Angeles. 

 Gerald Chaleff ( http://www.lapdonline.org/home/comm_bio_view/758 ) the Police Administrator appointed by Chief Bratton addressed the Committee along with Deputy Chief McDonald. Chaleff stated the Order would not impact the officers on the units for two years. Deputy Chief McDonald stated the Financial Disclosure issue was all that was holding up the resolution of the Consent Decree. He also stated of the 330 officers in the gang and narcotic units only 78 would be required to complete the Financial Disclosure in 2008 and 70 in 2009.

 When pressed by Councilmember Smith if the Financial Disclosure Order passed by the Police Commission was the preference of the Department or if it was being presented to only satisfy to judge, Deputy Chief McDonald responded that this is what is necessary. 

The representatives of the City Attorneys office were very reluctant to discuss in detail the options open to the council and on numerous occasions stated it would be better to discuss the matter in closed session. 

In long awaited and much needed moment Committee Chair Weiss asked the City Attorneys Office to clarify one very important point; that being that the consent decree in paragraph 132 called for Disclosure but did not call for the extent or procedures called for in the Order passed by the Police Commission.  The City Attorney responded in the affirmative.

The second point of clarification when Councilmember Weiss asked that could the council challenge the Order passed by the Police Commission and not challenge the Disclosure section as outlined in paragraph 132. Once again, the response was yes! It is not the Consent Decrees Financial Disclosure which is being challenged, it is the Order passed by the Police Commission.  

Tim Sands the President of the Police Protective League addressed the committee. He told the committee he and the officers sincerely wanted to come to an agreement which would bring resolution to the issue and at the same time protect the officers and their families.  He has spoken to most officers who will be impacted and to an officer all have stated they would not comply and would transfer out of the units. The officers wanted to continue in the units and serve the community but could not and would not put their families in jeopardy. 

Councilmember Zine advised he had contacted the Independent Monitor and requested he attend the meeting. The monitor refused. Council member Zine questioned Mr. Chaleff as to the amount of money paid to the Monitor each year and it was two million dollars.

There were other related expenses but Mr. Chaleff could not say how much was being spent.  ( Attached is the last report from the Monitor) http://www.kroll.com/library/lapd/LAPD_Q25_Final_Report_11-15-2007.pdf  

The last person to address the committee was David Hernandez. He was addressing the committee and a member of the North Hollywood North East Neighborhood Council and a concerned resident of Los Angeles. It is a shared belief and fear that the ultimate consequences of the Order Passed by the Police Commission will be the residents of Los Angeles. 

He was the only member of the Public to address the committee. Hernandez stated that it was the news of the impacted officers transferring out of the units which first brought attention to the issue.The impact on the community as a result of losing such experienced officers would be devastating.

As a result Hernandez address representatives of 30 councils requesting they support the City Council assert jurisdiction over the Financial Disclosure. The Neighborhood Councils of North Hollywood North East, Mid Town North Hollywood and Sunland-Tujunga passed motions supporting the transfer of jurisdiction. 

After hearing from several sources, mis-information being given about the ability of officers to transfer out of the units; Hernandez sought to bring clarity and truth to the transfer issue. In addressing the Committee Hernandez read directly from the Order passed by the Police Commission; “Additionally, employees within any of these designated assignment who either fail or refuse to fill out the forms as specified in the Order will not be allowed to continue in the assignment”  pg 2 secII paragraph A. 

The Order submitted by the Police Chief and Passed by the Police Commission contradicts what the Police Chief and members of the Commission have been saying in public about the ability of the officers to transfer out of the units. Both had been stating when responding to questions about the transfers that just because an officer submits a request for transfer does not mean they will get it. 

The second mis-statement deals with the two year grace period of officers now in the units. The gang units have a three year term and the officer can apply for two more years in the unit after the third term.

There are 78 officers who will be at the end of their 3rd term in 2008 and will be required to submit to the Financial Disclosure. There are 70 officers who fall into that category in 2009. That means a 45% reduction in the next two years.

This does not count those retiring or injured on the job.

The last mis-statement deals with the Consent Decree will be resolved if the Financial Disclosure is implemented. Hernandez read directly from the Report of the Independent Monitor, page 46 section V “it is clear the transformation of the Department is not yet complete. In the coming months, while we continue to closely to monitor the Consent Decree’s transactional paragraphs, we will also attempt to ensure that the transactional mandates of the Consent Decree have their desired effect of bringing about true reform within the Department.” 

Who is the “Independent Monitor”?  http://www.kroll.com/news/media/krollfactsheet.pdf

Is the Independent Monitor using the LAPD Consent Decree as a Marketing Tool? You be the judge.http://www.kroll.com/about/history/notable/

Whether the Financial Disclosure is kept as is or not, the Independent Monitor is not going to step aside for years to come. 

At two million dollars per year, would you?   

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