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June 3, 2014 Weekly Police Commission Meeting

Police Commissioner Robert Saltzman opened the meeting by thanking the Department for its participation in events connected with “LGBT Heritage Month.”  Saltzman also mentioned he is especially grateful that Chief Beck informed Department personnel that the Department officially sanctions the Gay Pride Parade and related events this coming weekend.  Secondly, Saltzman noted that USC students had recently sent a letter to Chief Beck to follow up on an incident from May 4, 2013, when LAPD officer responded to a student party near the campus.  Essentially, students believed the response was overblown and more aggressive than needed. In their follow-up letter, they asked for a report reflecting the results of the investigation into the incident and details of how it was evaluated.  Saltzman stressed that the commission is also interested in hearing details of the report and any lessons that were learned.

Police Commission President Steve Soboroff reminded everyone that in the coming weeks, the commission will be holding quite a few public meetings on various topics, including Chief Beck’s reappointment, the Department’s proposed use of unmanned aerial vehicles, upcoming labor contract negotiations, body cameras on officers and more.

Chief Beck delivered the Report of the Chief of Police.  His first topic was last weekend’s eighth annual gun buyback event, during which over 950 firearms were collected.  So far, the events have collected just under 13,000 firearms.  Secondly, Chief Beck mentioned that the past week had been rather violent, with 12 homicides in 11 divisions.  However, he stressed the current homicide level was roughly the same as it was in 2012.  As for the topic of safety at Staple’s Center for the upcoming Kings games Wednesday, June 4, and Saturday, June 7, the chief emphasized the area would be “well patrolled.”  In closing, Chief Beck returned to the topic of crime statistics and gave a rundown of crime rates in various categories, including the total number of homicides year-to-date, which is 114.

The meeting continued with the regular agenda items and the first of four presentations, which was an overview from Captain Jeff Bert of activities and progress relative to the Northeast Area’s Community Police Advisory Board (CPAB).  Working with CPAB, the primary goals are currently outreach to underserved communities, supporting youth engagement and crime reduction initiatives.  A particular program of note is the recently launched Mamas’ Captain’s Table Program, which attempts to create dialogues and communication between police and primarily Hispanic families coping with gang activity – especially family members in gangs.  Captain Bert also mentioned a recent event known as the Youth Voices Conference.  Discussion topics at the conference included establishing partnerships with council districts, churches, community agencies and more, as well as constituent leadership opportunities.  Captain Bert went on to discuss some Northeast Area crime reduction strategies, which included expansion of CPAB participation in some districts, successful closures of marijuana clinics and massage parlors and using the division as a model for cutting-edge social media by incorporating original and engaging outreach material.

The second presentation was a report on the status of the LAPD Risk Management Division’s program(s).  Chief Beck had asked for a review of the program.  Arif Alikhan, current head of the Risk Management Division (RMD) gave the presentation.  His began by providing a rundown of the RMD’s current strategies for improvement, including reaching out to other risk management divisions in the City for input on how those divisions are managed, along with outreach to the City Attorney’s Office for guidance.  Secondly, he talked about the definition of risks, followed by risk prevention and mitigation as learning tools for improvement.  A primary concern for RMD is incidents involving a use of force (UOF), with emphasis on proper intervention when officers employ poor tactical actions and mitigation of UOF impacts, in general.  RMD has established four major areas of focus for its efforts: uses of force, professionalism issues such as claims of internal prejudicial treatment, employee injury mitigation and office-involved traffic collisions.  Lastly, Alikhan emphasized there was still a need to consider “human factors” (i.e. - human errors), better evaluation and continued improvement. In closing, there were some additional comments and questions from the commissioners, including concerns about large payouts resulting from lawsuits against the Department/City.

The third presentation was about current and effective strategies to recruit and retain youth in the Police Cadet Program.  LAPD Youth Programs Coordinator Natalie Torres led the presentation by announcing that the upcoming class of graduating cadets was the largest ever at 650.  She also mentioned the graduation event would be later this month on June 28 at USC’s Galen Center.  Torres said the best strategy to keep young people interested and involved in the cadet program is the use of cutting-edge social media, which she believes creates the most effective outreach and communication.  In view of that, the Department now offers the “LAPD Cadet Program App,” which is available to the general public.  Features of the app include messages and images that inspire and inform cadets and would-be cadets, along with actual footage of cadet training.  This approach is especially promising, since social media is expected to expand in the future.

Topanga Division Detective Dave Kennedy began the final presentation, based on a report dated May 16, 2014.  The report, known as the Topanga Area Detective Command Accountability Performance Audit, evaluated various detective operations in the Topanga Area.  Overall, the area did very well, with some issues cited as needing improvement.  Much of the presentation consisted of responses to Commissioner Madison’s questions on specific sections of the audit.  When discussion ended, Commissioner Saltzman successfully put forth a motion to approve the audit.

The Department’s Report, dated May 23, 2014, relative to the professional services agreement with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department for prisoner transport and release services, as set forth, was approved.

The Department’s Report, dated May 30, 2014, relative to the revolving training fund budget for Fiscal Year 2014-2015, as set forth, was approved.

The Department’s Report, dated May 30, 2014, relative to the professional services agreement with Partners for a Safer America for rotating bail bond signboard advertising, as set forth, was continued to the following week.

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