At the beginning of the year, I sat down for well over an hour with officers in the roll call room at Hollywood station. The experience brought back some great memories from my days in roll call. More importantly, I was very pleased with the candor of everyone present. It was a great opportunity for open dialogue, to dispel rumors and to provide insight as to how and why recent changes in systems of this organization are made, while sharing a cup of coffee with you. For those who couldn’t be there, we talked about everything from Financial Disclosure forms, to promotions to training and many other important concerns.
To date, a substantial number of officers have signed a Financial Disclosure. Whether or not to sign is a personal decision and one that I know is not made lightly. I want to thank those officers who have signed Financial Disclosures for your commitment to staff these important positions. I also want to thank those that have chosen not to sign for the outstanding job you did while assigned to these positions in reducing crime. I am confident all of you will continue to work together in the future to make Los Angeles the safest city in America.
Much of our discussion involved budget problems. As you all know, the current budget situation makes it tough for me to implement some great ideas you’ve suggested to make your work much more efficient. For example, one officer asked about telephonic reports and electronic DFARs and reports, both of which clearly make sense. Sadly, with civilian staffing levels severely impacted by furloughs and the lack of funding and technology to integrate with our current systems, going paperless is just too difficult to implement under current conditions. But, I’m not giving up on this great idea. This is a long term project that I will support, as it is a means getting you back out onto the streets a lot faster. But we cannot do this without our civilian workforce fully staffed. I’m looking forward to the day we can refill those critical civilian positions which all of us understand are vital to our ability to properly serve the city.
A few other issues we discussed at the Hollywood Area roll call:
• While I am still looking for ways to streamline the booking process to get officers released faster, (especially when arrestees need medical treatment), forced furloughs of our detention officers limit any ideas that would include additional jail staffing.
• We are researching the impact of the educational requirement for promotional exams. I will continue to support programs that assist you in earning college credits.
• As a few of you have suggested ways the Department can generate revenue by charging violators for “Fix it” tickets, my staff is currently looking into this and researching the pros and cons of taking this on.
• We are looking into expanding the list of approved firearms for both off duty and back up carry (.380 pistols: the Ruger LCP and the S&W Bodyguard) in addition to testing new primary duty weapons (Springfield Model XDM .40 caliber, S&W Model M&P .40 caliber, or the Glock Gen 4 Model 22 .40 Caliber).
• The question about future training for FTO, Vice and Narco schools was posed. As of this writing, a modified training schedule for these schools will continue as calendared for 2011. Please check the Training Notices section on the LANs for upcoming schools and training or contact the Training Coordination and Detective Training Units.
I appreciate very much the suggestions and ideas I got at Hollywood and the many others I receive from officers as I read my email (and I read every one), visit with officers on the street and work the occasional patrol shift. Your ideas do not fall on deaf ears by any means. However, in the best of times I could not implement overnight every good idea I hear. In today’s budgetary climate, it’s even tougher to move forward. But I’m not discouraged. And I hope you aren’t either. Please keep those ideas coming and know we will move on them as quickly as we can.
Good Bye, Bill
By the time you read this message, I will have visited Van Nuys’ station as my second stop for my monthly coffee chat with you in roll call. I would be remiss if I did not express my heartfelt empathy for Captain Bill Eaton’s family and friends. Last month I asked you to keep Bill in your prayers as he was battling cancer. Despite giving it his all, Bill lost the fight and passed away on January 13, 2011. Please keep his family and loved ones in your prayers as they, like all of us, are mourning his loss. Many of us men and women in blue were fortunate to have called him a friend and became part of his extended family. Bill was a great man and truly deserving of the special tribute to his life recently aired on an episode of the television show “Southland”. May his memory live on through the selfless work you do every day.