In today’s era of policing, changes come rapidly and dramatically. More than ever, change is a reality for anybody who pursues a career in law enforcement. Our Department itself is changing, almost daily. The command staff promotion ceremony last April, which saw the advancement of more women and minorities than the LAPD has seen in recent memory, exemplified that. Change is good, and the ability to adapt to change is essential for growth and success.
For the past four and a half years, I have been working with the Department leadership on a change to our discipline philosophy. As I have said in the past, it is time to bring an end to the “gotcha” mentality that seeks to punish employees to administrative violations via the use of unnecessary personnel complaints. This practice is counter-productive and can breed a host of negative byproducts, including fear, resentment, and even defiance. In order to bring an end to the “gotcha” era, the Department must give employees a chance to correct their behavior without the formality of a personnel complaint. This is not something that can be done quickly, but I assure you, we are working toward that end.
On March 8, 2007, the Department’s new discipline philosophy was presented to the entire command staff. Over the course of two 4-hour sessions, I directed command staff to begin seeking intelligent solutions to their internal personnel problems, and to view the personnel complaint as their last possible option. I expect Department leaders to be creative, not just in fighting crime and the other essential jobs they do, but also when it comes to employee development and accountability. I have directed the Commanding Officer of Professional Standards Bureau, Deputy Chief Mark Perez, to elaborate upon and implement this philosophy.
While I expect the leaders of this Department to take well-reasoned, well-informed risks when using means other than personnel complaints, there are boundaries. Employees who have been counseled or cautioned to change, and who repeat their behavior anyway, must know there will be consequences for these actions. Repeat offenders will face possible downgrading, demotion, suspension or termination if they cannot- or will not respond to creative leadership. In these cases, there is little other recourse for the Department than the personnel complaint system.
I expect Department leaders to embrace and implement this philosophy. Likewise, I expect all employees to respond professionally and rationally to being held accountable for their actions. It is time to focus more on fighting crime, not fighting each other.
SEATBELTS SAVES LIVES
While on the subject of changing behavior, we are still not in 100% compliance with the State’s seatbelt law, despite all the troubling statistics. In 2006, there were 737 LAPD officer-involved auto collisions. Of those, 664 were using seatbelts. It is statistically more likely for an officer to be killed in a traffic collision than in an officer-involved shooting. We know for a fact that the use of seatbelts can prevent significant injuries in auto accidents. Even with airbags in vehicles, seatbelts are considered the best protection. Seatbelts are as much a part of our protective gear as our ballistic vests. Furthermore, the law is clear, and so am I. WEAR YOUR SEATBELT. It is our sworn duty to enforce the law, and follow it ourselves.
TACTICAL OPERATIONS RESOURCE HANDBOOK
This month Use of Force Review Division will post the much anticipated Tactical Operations Resource Handbook on the Department Local Area Network, or LAN, homepage of our internal website. The handbook was designed to be the singular go-to source for use of force issues and consolidates all the information - Department Manual Sections, Special Orders, Notices, Training Bulletins, and Consent Decree paragraphs related to the use of force - into one electronic binder. The handbook features a powerful index of topics as well as related documents connected by hyperlinks, making navigation simple for the reader. Additionally, digital imaging and, eventually, video streaming, will deliver a visual component to help provide a clearer understanding of the issues being presented. The handbook will be updated constantly and will reflect the most current information.
Equipping our officers with the latest in crime-fighting technology is also a major priority for the Department. We are continuing the field testing of a new and improved taser, the X-26. The next step is to test the taser with a special camera attached. These special TaserCams provide a necessary safeguard for the officer who uses the device in the line of duty. Training Division has received the cameras and is in the process of attaching them to the tasers. They will then go through another round of testing. Once completed, I will share with you the results of that testing.
This Department continues to succeed thanks to the combined efforts of its employees, both sworn and civilian. I would like to acknowledge one civilian in particular, Principal Public Relations Representative Steven Reifel. For the past four and a half years, Steven has collaborated with me on my monthly message. He, too, is seeking a change with more career opportunities. He has taken a job with the Los Angeles City Employees’ Retirement System. I want to thank Steven and wish him all the best.
It is important to remember that with change, comes even more challenge. But, what remains constant is our continued commitment to the Department, to each other, and to our City: to protect and to serve. Continue in your duties, focus on your objectives, as we do our part to continually evolve and grow, as only a world-class police agency can.