LAPD policy on names will stay

first_imgThe Police Commission on Wednesday stood by its decision to withhold officers’ names from use-of-force reports in order to protect their privacy, but noted that some members might advocate for changes in state law to make the system more transparent. The controversial stand came after the officers union threatened to sue the city if the commission did not discontinue a 25-year practice of releasing unedited reports by the chief of police analyzing violent incidents. “We’re concerned about our own ability to speak to the public but we’re also concerned with liability to the city,” said Commissioner Andrea Ordin. The board let the policy stand despite opposition from civil-rights and First Amendment activists, who chided the panel for initially making its decision in a closed session in December and warned of possible community backlash. 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 “There is a tremendous amount of paranoia and fear as it relates to Los Angeles Police Department actions within the African-American community,” said Lewis Logan, pastor at Bethel AME Church and a city neighborhood commissioner. “Withholding the names of police officers will exacerbate that.” The commission let the decision stand without taking any formal vote, but Ordin and commission President John Mack said they want to continue to address the matter in future meetings. Both commissioners also suggested that the panel might advocate for changes in California law to allow the force reports to be released with officer names intact. “In light of today’s discussion, I think state legislation could help clarify the situation,” Mack said after the meeting. Ordin, a former U.S. attorney, suggested filing a friend-of-the-court brief in one of the cases currently before the state Supreme Court related to the release of peace-officer information. The LAPD will continue to release basic information, including officers’ names, soon after shootings. The commission’s concern hinges on whether the evaluation of officers’ actions contained in the more detailed chief’s reports constitutes personnel records, which are typically kept private under state law. The panel has recently begun posting use-of-force reviews with its own evaluations on the Internet, but without officer names. City lawyers suggested that official analysis of named officers’ actions would likely be considered private. Loyola Law School Professor Laurie Levenson, whom the commission brought in to provide advice, also concurred. “The courts are taking an expansive view of what constitutes a personnel record,” she said. But Mark Harvis of the county Public Defender’s Office countered that many of the cases cited by city lawyers still have appeals pending, leaving the law unsettled. Levenson said the best solution would be to change state law to allow such reports to be released, something California Senate Majority Leader Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles, has offered to assist with. Some City Council members have expressed concern about the commission’s decision, and council President Eric Garcetti said the council would consider pushing for legislative changes. “All options are on the table,” Garcetti said. “I think people would like to see a way that we can keep the policy consistent.” The chief counsel to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, though, said it is too soon to back such a move because it may require constitutional changes or a statewide vote. “It’s not as easy as just advocating for something in Sacramento because then that would be a much easier proposition,” said Thomas Saenz. Dan Laidman, (213) [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more