LAPD reports on shootings set for debate
The City Council voted Tuesday to formally release the memo that led the Police Commission to order officers’ names removed from shooting reports – a legal analysis already leaked to the media – setting the stage for a hearing today before the civilian police panel. The unanimous vote allows the Police Commission to have a public debate on its decision, made in private two months ago but announced only last week. “When the government restricts publicly available information and it does it secretly for secret reasons it is offensive to the public and the public interest,” said Councilman Jack Weiss, a former federal prosecutor and chairman of the Public Safety Committee. The Police Commission could vote to reverse itself – as California Senate Majority Leader Gloria Romero, the American Civil Liberties Union and others have urged – although the panelists have shown no sign of backing down. Romero has offered to introduce state legislation to resolve such legal concerns. Councilman Dennis Zine, a retired police sergeant, questioned why the council was putting so much effort into legal wranglings over releasing a document that the Daily News and some other media obtained last week. Zine said the council needs to plug leaks, while on the substance of the issue he sided with his former colleagues in the officers union, saying names should not be released because there are enough “checks and balances” in the system already. But Councilman Bernard Parks, a former LAPD chief, said he was shocked when he learned of the commission’s decision. “For 25 years we’ve had a process in place,” he said. “On the day of a shooting the LAPD puts the names of the officer in a news release and then a year later we’re saying we need to call them Officer A and Officer B, which does not create the confidence I think the community is looking for.” Council President Eric Garcetti said there should be “a very high threshold as to why we should change a policy of openness.” The majority of the council remained silent or noncommittal, however, making it unclear whether the body would try to assert formal control over the matter if the Police Commission does not reverse itself. Councilman Ed Reyes tried to rally his colleagues, though, suggesting that their power was being eroded. He referenced the recent videotaped police shooting in Chino to say public confidence in law enforcement is imperiled and needs transparency. “I feel our discretion, our area of influence, seems to be fading and weakening over time when you have these kinds of actions being taken by a commission of appointed individuals and not elected ones,” he said. Dan Laidman, (213) 978-0390 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECasino Insider: Here’s a look at San Manuel’s new high limit rooms, Asian restaurant While the LAPD will continue to release basic factual information, including officer names, soon after shootings and other incidents involving serious use of force, the identifications will be removed from the detailed reports compiled by the police chief in each use-of-force case. Media and watchdog groups have long used the chief’s reports to track misconduct and hold the Los Angeles Police Department accountable, but the officers union threatened to sue to keep them private. The commissioners previously said they followed the city attorney’s advice and tried to strike a balance by continuing to release the chief’s reports under the California Public Records Act but redacting officers’ names. But the city attorney’s memo actually says the law remains unsettled when it comes to the release of officer names and that it could lean toward either open government or officer privacy. However, several commissioners said they were persuaded to black out the names by a section that warned that the chief’s analysis of individual officers’ actions could be considered confidential personnel information.