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CHIEF’S MESSAGE – October 2009

In this Blueline message I will discuss the new Use of Force Policy and give you a status update on the Department building program.  Use of Force Policy and Department facilities are unlikely partners in a Chief’s message, except that both had been long overdue for a comprehensive review.  Both are now ready to serve you in the years to come.    

Use of Force Policy

From the very first days of the Academy, police officers are reminded that they are entrusted with some awesome responsibilities and none more awesome than those related to the use of force.  With the best of intentions, our policies and procedures pertaining to the use of force evolved until they existed in at least 18 different directives and manual sections.  The fact that these policies and procedures were disjointed was only the beginning of the problem; they were also inconsistent with prevailing case law and lacked clarity for such an important policy.

We owed it to the officers and to the community to make sure that the policy was clear, concise, consolidated and consistent with prevailing law.  Using our methodology of “best practices,” we reviewed use of force policies across the United States and Canada.  We examined applicable case law and the California Penal Code.  After years of work, on July 14, 2009, the Police Commission approved Special Order No. 36, 2009, which will codify the Use of Force Policy entirety in Department Manual Section 1/556.

As many of you already know though your e-learning or through roll call training, the 1989 Supreme Court decision “Graham vs. Connor,” established “Objectively Reasonable” as the standard courts use to judge the lawfulness of a use of force.  It is on this foundation that the new policy is based.    

I care about your safety and your careers.  So please take some extra time to fully understand the new policy.  The potential that you would use force on a human being is, after all, one of the most awesome responsibilities entrusted to you by the people of Los Angeles.

The new Use of Force Policy is the result of outstanding leadership provided by Commissioners Anthony Pacheco and Alan Skobin, First Assistant Chief Jim McDonnell, Police Administrator Gerald Chaleff, Deputy Chief Sandy Jo MacArthur, Commanders Rick Jacobs and Richard Webb, Captains Carol Aborn, Scott Sargent, and Steve Zipperman, and City Attorney Debra Gonzalez.  Los Angeles Police Protective League Attorneys Gary Ingemunson and Mike Stone were also a vital part of the process.  I offer my heartfelt thanks to these leaders and all those who played a role behind the scenes.  Job well done.      

World Class Department – World Class Facilities

The billion dollar facilities update we are enjoying today is yet another vote of confidence in you by the people of Los Angeles.  By the time this article is published, we will have constructed 11 new police facilities and renovated 12 others.  Additional new facilities include the Emergency Operations Center, the Metropolitan Detention Center, Metro and Valley Bomb Squad facilities, the Operations-Valley Bureau Headquarters and Valley Traffic Division facility.  With money saved during the building program, the old Rampart Area Station will be renovated and commissioned as a much needed station for Metropolitan Division and there will be extensive remodeling of the Elysian Park Academy, including the addition of a new classroom.      

Our old friend “Parker Center” reached its service life a decade or two ago. We bid it a fond farewell.  The new Police Administration Building (PAB) is a 10 story, $437 million, 500,000 square-foot structure, with a 400 seat civic auditorium.  The new PAB has state of the art technologies like fiber optic connections to computer servers, video conference rooms and a media room with live stream capabilities.  One area in the new PAB that I hope is used to the fullest is the fitness center.  Stay in shape for yourselves, for your families and for the Department.

There will be a new and fitting memorial to the LAPD Officers who gave their lives while serving the people of this City.  The Los Angeles Police Foundation deserves a special thanks for championing the beautiful Memorial Sculpture and garden area located on the top tier of the plaza.  All architectural work for the Police Memorial was provided pro bono by the distinguished firm of Gensler.  In a separate memorial, glass cases near the main entrance will display a replica badge for each of the fallen officers.    

Thousands upon thousands will visit the new PAB in the years to come.  Many of them will visit the memorials.  Few will have the opportunity to express their gratitude for the job you do and the danger you face every single day.

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