CHIEF'S MESSAGE

As we near the end of 2006 and begin the holiday season, I'd like to reflect on the past year.  While the LAPD has enjoyed many successes that reflect the hard work of our men and women to make the City safer, we have also experienced losses...those who are not with us because they are serving overseas, those we have lost due to illness and accidents, and the loss of one who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty. 

As of the first of December, a total of 25 Los Angeles Police Department employees, 19 sworn and six civilians, are serving in the U.S. armed forces deployed on overseas assignments. Of those 25, nearly half will be spending their second, third, even fourth holiday season away from family and friends.  While the Department offers financial and career support to our activated military personnel, our LAPD family also offers emotional support to these employees who are our partners and coworkers.

This has also been a difficult year because for the first time in two and a half years, the LAPD lost an officer in the line of duty.  On Sunday, October 22, Northeast Area Officer Landon Dorris and his partner were investigating a minor traffic collision when a car hit Officer Dorris.  The 31-year-old officer had been with the Department for just over three years.  He served six years with the California Highway Patrol prior to joining the LAPD.  Officer Dorris is survived by his mother and two sisters, a fiancé and two young sons, ages three and one-and-a-half. 

We were also challenged this year by the deaths of several Department employees due to illness and accidents.  This past year we lost 12 sworn officers, including 2 reservists, and one civilian employee.

This past year presented a different set of challenges for several LAPD officers who suffered serious, life-altering injuries.  In August, Hollenbeck Area Officer James Tuck was seriously hurt when he and his partner made a traffic stop in the Montecito Heights area.  They had just pulled over a car when the passenger got out and charged the officers.  He sprayed their patrol car with high-velocity rounds from an AK-47.  Officer Tuck was shot three times, with one bullet nearly severing his left hand at the wrist.  The news for this young officer is promising, his physicians believe he will regain about 85 percent of the use of his hand after a year of rehabilitation.

Newton Area Officer Enrique Chavez was seriously wounded when his three-year-old son accidentally shot him in the back as they drove near their Anaheim home.  Officer Chavez underwent surgery to have a metal rod placed in his spine and he remains paralyzed from the waist down.  Officer Chavez is in rehabilitation and is progressing ahead of schedule.

In mid-June, West Traffic Division Officer Michael Toth was riding his Department motorcycle on his way home when he stopped to help officers from the California Highway Patrol conducting an accident investigation.  As he was leaving the scene, a sports utility vehicle hit Officer Toth.  He was rushed to a hospital and had extensive surgery on injuries to his face, chest and legs.  Officer Toth is going through physical therapy and recently had more surgery to repair damage to his right foot.  His goal is to be back at work mid-year 2007.

And finally, this summer Southwest Area Officer Kristina Ripatti was shot and paralyzed from the chest down while trying to arrest an armed man who had robbed a gas station.  Now she spends several days a week in rehab and she works out in a gym to increase her upper body strength.  As she learns to adjust to life in a wheelchair, Officer Ripatti also fights to stay mentally fit as she challenges conventional medical wisdom that she will never walk again.  Kristina, her husband Southeast Area Officer Tim Pearce, and their young daughter Jordan were recently featured on ABC television's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.  Their home was “made over” free of charge by hundreds of volunteers to accommodate Officer Ripatti's new disabilities.

This will certainly be an emotional holiday season for her and the others I have mentioned.  As you celebrate with your own loved ones, take the time to remember those men and women of the LAPD who are facing extraordinary physical and emotional challenges, those who will not be home with their loved ones, and those that have gone before us.  In this city noted for its angels, these are the LAPD's angels.  Let me offer you and your families my best wishes for a safe, healthy and happy holiday season.

WILLIAM J. BRATTON
Chief of Police


Chief's December Message

As we near the end of 2006 and begin the holiday season, I’d like us to reflect on the past year. While we have enjoyed many operational successes that reflect your hard work to make the city safer, we have also experienced losses...those who are not with us because they are serving overseas, those we have lost due to illness and accidents and the loss of one who paid the ultimate sacrifice while in the line of duty.

As of the first of December, a total of 25 Los Angeles Police Department employees, 19 sworn and six civilians are serving in the U.S. armed forces deployed on overseas assignments. Of those 25; nearly half will be spending their second, third, even fourth Christmas away from family and friends.

While the Department offers financial and career support to our activated military personnel, the LAPD family should also offer emotional support to these employees who are our partners and coworkers. Please take the time to remember them and their families during the holidays.

This has also been a difficult year because for the first time in two and a half years, we have lost an officer in the line of duty. On Sunday, October 22, Northeast Area Officer Landon Dorris and his partner were investigating a minor traffic collision when a car hit Officer Dorris. The 31-year-old officer had been with us for just over three years. He served six years with the California Highway Patrol prior to joining the LAPD. Officer Dorris is survived by his mother and two sisters, a fiancé and two young sons, ages three and one-and-a-half.

We were also challenged this year by the deaths of several Department employees due to illness and accidents. Although this is not an all-inclusive list, due to the wishes of the families involved, I ask that you remember the 12 sworn officers, including 2 reservists, and one civilian employee no longer with us.

This past year presented a different set of challenges for several LAPD officers who suffered serious, life-altering injuries. In August, Hollenbeck Area Officer James Tuck was seriously hurt when he and his partner made a traffic stop in the Montecito Heights area. They had just pulled over a car when the passenger got out and charged the officers. He sprayed their patrol car with high-velocity rounds from an AK-47. Officer Tuck was shot three times, with one bullet nearly severing his left hand at the wrist. The news for this young officer is promising, his physicians believe he will regain about 85 percent of the use of his hand after a year of rehabilitation.

In late April, Newton Area Officer Jennifer Howlett and her partner Officer Daniel Calderon were involved in a traffic collision with an intoxicated motorist. Officer Howlett suffered multiple fractures to her left femur, right ankle and right foot. Officer Calderon sustained a compound fracture to his right femur. The officers were transported to a local hospital where they underwent surgery. Both officers are receiving on-going treatment for their injuries and remain off-duty.

Newton Area Officer Enrique Chavez was seriously wounded when his three-year-old son accidentally shot him in the back as they drove near their Anaheim home. Officer Chavez underwent surgery to have a metal rod placed in his spine and he remains paralyzed from the waist down. Officer Chavez is in rehabilitation and is progressing ahead of schedule.

In mid-June, West Traffic Division Officer Michael Toth was riding his Department motorcycle on his way home when he stopped to help officers from the California Highway Patrol conducting an accident investigation. As he was leaving the scene, a sports utility vehicle hit Officer Toth. He was rushed to a hospital and had extensive surgery on injuries to his face, chest and legs. Officer Toth is going through physical therapy and recently had more surgery to repair damage to his right foot. His goal is to be back at work mid-year 2007.

And finally, this summer Southwest Area Officer Kristina Ripatti was shot and paralyzed from the chest down while trying to arrest an armed man who had robbed a gas station. Now she spends several days a week in rehab and she works out in a gym to increase her upper body strength. As she learns to adjust to life in a wheelchair, Officer Ripatti also fights to stay mentally fit to challenge conventional medical wisdom that she will never walk again. Kristina, her husband, Southeast Area Officer Tim Pearce, and their young daughter Jordan were recently featured on ABC television’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Their home was “made over” free of charge by hundreds of volunteers to accommodate her disabilities.

This will certainly be an emotional holiday season for her and the others I have mentioned. As you celebrate with your own loved ones, take the time to remember the men and women of the LAPD who are facing extraordinary physical and emotional challenges. Remember those who will not be home with their loved ones, and remember those that have gone before us. In this city noted for its angels, these are the LAPD’s angels. May they always be in our thoughts, our memories and by our side, and even as you remember them, let me offer you and your families my best wishes for a safe, healthy and happy holiday season.


Chief's November Message

As I begin my fifth year as Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, I want to update you on the many projects and improvements that we have made and ones we are considering for the future.  Although many of these are still in the conceptual design, or bidding phase, they represent the forward thinking and progressive movement of the Department. These projects illustrate the Department's efforts to embrace "best practices in policing," and encourage the men and women of the the LAPD to continue their outstanding work in making Los Angeles an even safer city.

Over the past year we have accomplished a lot to improve Department Operations, take crime fighting into the 21st Century, and improve officer safety. One successful and popular improvement has been the decision to use selected models of the Glock semi-automatic pistol as an optional duty weapon. I believe it's a superior weapon and recruits in the academy are now issued the 40-caliber Glock pistol. Seventy percent of law enforcement agencies nationwide use Glocks. Although initially there was a problem with the 45 caliber model not firing correctly, all 1,800 of the models purchased by LAPD officers have been retrofitted and are now working well in the field.

As reported a few months ago, Training Division has 25 new state-of-the-art Force Option Simulators. Each geographic Area now has one and the Tactics Unit has trained at least one Divisional Training Coordinator in each of the 19 geographic Areas and four Traffic Divisions. Traffic Division personnel will be able to use the simulators at the geographic Areas. This is an excellent example of the Department's move toward a more decentralized approach to training by providing opportunities at the officer's assigned Area or Division rather than at just two or three facilities across the City.

On the issue of the new LAPD flashlight, after extensive field testing of prototypes, a vendor was selected and is currently working to mass-produce the individual components for assembly. The first delivery of approximately 4,300 flashlights is expected in December. Training Division is currently working on a distribution plan to get these new flashlights in the hands of all LAPD officers and recruits.

In August, the Police Commission approved the Department's request to move forward with the puchase of new X26 TASER's for field and Detective personnel. This new TASER model is 60 percent smaller and lighter than the model currently in use by the Department. It can easily be worn on the belt. Having this tool readily available for use will help reduce injuries to both officers and suspects. The Department is currently working on funding for the TASER's while Training Division is moving ahead with plans for training and distribution.

Regarding the revised Vehicle Pursuit Policy and the use of the Pursuit Intervention Techniques or PIT maneuver, as of late September, more than 2,200 officers from all 19 geographic Areas and four Traffic Divisions have been trained. Training Division personnel are working with Bureau Training Coordinators to ensure that all officers assigned to patrol are trained on the PIT maneuver by this time next year. Also relevant to the Vehicle Pursuit Policy, a large number of officers assigned to patrol or traffic functions have been trained in the deployment of the "Stop Stick" tire deflation device. From May 2005 through August 2006, there have heen 20 successfully implemented PIT maneuvers that have stopped potentially dangerous pursuit situations before becoming a threat to the public. Also during that time frame there have been eight successful deployments of the "Stop Stick."

On the issue of In-Car Digital Video, the City Council has given the Department the go ahead to install the system in all patrol vehicles in South Bureau. We hope to select a vendor by the end of this year, and have all South Bureau patrol vehicles equipped by the end of fiscal year June 2007. Ultimately, and depending on funding, we anticipate outfitting patrol vehicles in each geographic Bureau at a rate of one Bureau per year. In-Car Digital Video ensures transparency, accountability, and officer integrity, and will provide concrete evidence for officers being investigated on allegations of misconduct, but more importantly aid in the investigation of criminal activity.

Another technology project approved by the City Council is the automatic License Plate Recognition System. Money has been set aside to outfit one patrol vehicle per geographic Area. The system has the ability to scan, recognize, and process the license plate numbers of several hundred cars in a manner of seconds.

Technology is truly the key to increasing the Department's effectiveness as we continue to fight and reduce crime with limited resources. Several pilot programs are in the works relating to increasing technology available in patrol vehicles, including the "Star Chase" electronic tracking system. This pursuit management tool consists of a projectile launched from a patrol vehicle-mounted device. The projectile adheres to the suspect vehicle, enabling police officers to monitor its location through a global positioning system receiver, often reducing the need for a high-speed pursuit.

Yet another technology pilot project currently being tested in Southeast Area is video downlink. The system will connect patrol vehicles to real-time video being recorded from surveillance cameras from around the area. This gives patrol officers situational awareness, providing them with more information on which to base their decisions. And in both Rampart and Southeast Area, officers are testing facial-recognition technology. This programs works digitally capturing and analyzing facial images for comparison and identification.

As I stated earlier, these projects were initiated to improve and position the Department as leaders in the use of cutting edge technological advancements. When combined with the will and determination of the men and women of this Department, we will have the tools needed to continue to reduce crime. Let's face it, with too few cops, we need cutting edge technology to give us an edge on the criminals so that one day we will achieve our goal of making Los Angeles the safest large city in America.   


Chief's October Message

The Los Angeles Police Department has been at the forefront of developing innovative and effective field tactics since the early 1950s. Through extensive research and a commitment to excellence, the Department designed innovative tactics and accompanied these with extensive training. The Department’s legacy is that other police agencies worldwide have emulated these practices. Imitation is indeed the sincerest form of flattery.

In this tradition, and in adherence to our “best practices” philosophy, we constantly monitor, evaluate, update, and improve our tactics. As police officers,we are granted the power to use force in response to a suspect’s action. However, this force must be reasonable and measured to fit the situation. The Department critically evaluates all uses of force. The Use of Force Review Board,in particular, examines all categorical uses of force, which include in-custody deaths. The recommendations of the Use of Force Board are then forwarded to my office and to the Police Commission.

In reviewing some recent in-custody deaths, it is apparent that some officers and supervisors need to be reminded of the established Department protocols for using the Hobble restraint or prevention of positional asphyxia. As you have been instructed, positional asphyxia is the restriction of breathing caused by the physical position or placement of a person. The issue is further complicated because incidents involving its occurrence often require the use of the Hobble restraint device.

While the suspects who were restrained were often under the influence of drugs or had other medical issues, we must follow our established protocols to enhance the person’s chance of survival and reduce our liability. The occurrence of positional asphyxia is of great concern because the Department has an approved procedure for using the Hobble device. The procedure dictates that the suspect be placed in an upright seated position, as positional asphyxia usually occurs when a suspect is placed laying down on their stomach.

The proper use of the Hobble device is outlined in Training Bulletin, Volume35, Issue 10, published in June 2003.Titled, “Restraining Procedures and Devices,” there is a section devoted entirely to the Hobble. Restating the need of keeping the arrestee upright, the bulletin repeatedly states that the Hobbled individual must be continuously monitored.

I am keenly aware of the lengths that a suspect may go to—the kicking, fighting and resisting—to keep from being taken into custody. I’m also aware that a number of the individuals who require restraining are under the influence of illegal narcotics. However,once the suspect is controlled, that person needs to be placed in an upright position and continuously monitored for signs of medical distress. Additionally, if a sergeant is at scene, it is my expectation that the supervisor will exert command and control over that situation, including making sure proper procedures are followed regarding suspects who are restrained with a Hobble.

Aside from keeping the Police Commission and command staff updated on issues such as this, the Use of Force Review Division is also working on the “Use of Force Source book,” which is expected to be available in a few months. The sourcebook was developed to provide guidance to Department personnel about use of force issues and will be a “living document,”constantly updated to reflect the most current information. It will be made available over the Department LAN homepage. As a single source document, this publication will be an assemblage of Department Manual Sections, Special Orders, Notices,Training Bulletins, and Consent Decree paragraphs that relate to the use of force.

Also published by the Use of Force Review Division, and currently available on the LAN homepage, is the new Tactical Operations or “TacOps” Newsletter. This newsletter was designed by the Tactics Training Review Committee that is made up of Department experts in tactics, use of force,training and field operations. It will provide you with timely and relevant information to achieve peak performance during tactical situations. My goalhere is simple. I want to provide you with the best training and information possible so that you can do your job safely. I encourage you to discuss the information contained in the“Tac Ops” newsletter with your partner and fellow officers.

Just as I am committed to making the Department the leader in law enforcement technology, I am equally committed to maintaining our position as the leader in law enforcement tactics. Through constant review, and with these two new Department publications, the LAPD is maintaining its legacy.


Chief's September Message

COPS COUNT

I recently delivered a keynote speech at the annual
National Institute of Justice Conference in
Washington, DC.  This gave me a chance to speak
frankly about my beliefs on the factors involved
in controlling and reducing crime, and my observations
regarding the relationship between the practitioners—
the cops on the street—and the researchers,
academics, and sociologists.

Because the audience included researchers and social
scientists, as well as police professionals, I
challenged them all to begin working together in a
more synergistic manner than in the antagonistic
manner we have shared in the past.  But the main
point that I wanted to make was that cops count,
and that cops are the most essential component of
the equation when it comes to fighting and reducing
crime.

In my remarks I spoke about the importance of debate
and the exchange of opposing ideas.  But I made it
clear that I stop short when I hear the contentious
opinion, commonly put forth by researchers, that
fluctuations in crime are due to socioeconomic
factors, such as demographics and economic
disparity, while dismissing the role of police
officers in crime prevention and reduction.

The City of Los Angeles is now experiencing its
lowest crime numbers in 50 years, earning L.A.
the title of second safest large city in the nation.
That was not caused by some demographic or
socioeconomic glitch or downward trend.  It was in
direct response to the hard work of the men and
women of the LAPD.  From the end of the year 2001,
to the end of the year 2005, homicides have declined
17.2 percent.  That, in human terms amounts to 101
fewer people murdered.  I don’t know of any other
major U.S. city that has been as successful, and it
was done with half the ratio of officers to residents
as compared to New York City.  Who says cops
don’t count?

Reductions in crime and disorder in this City attest
to the Department’s innovative strategies and its
consistent, compassionate, and constitutionally-
appropriate style.  While social issues may have a
slight bearing on the rise and fall of crime, I
prefer to think of them as meager influences.  The
quickest way to impact crime is through a well-led,
properly managed, and appropriately-resourced police
force; a police force that embraces risk-taking
and not risk-adversity.  This police agency must
also include accountability-focused COMPSTAT
management principles, “Broken Windows” quality of
life initiatives, and problem-oriented community
policing that is transparent and accessible to the
public, the media, the profession, and the research
community.

Getting to the issue of causes, I believe strongly
that the single most important cause of crime is
human behavior.  One thing that I have learned and
strongly advocate is that the police, with proper
resources and appropriate direction, can control
behavior to such a degree that it will change
behavior.  I have seen nothing in the way of hard
evidence to dissuade me from the simple truth that
we are the difference.

Cops count, as they are the essential catalysts in
the reduction and prevention of crime.  On a daily
basis, Los Angeles police officers are making the
difference, out there in a  real world that is far
removed from sterile and controlled academic and
research environments.  Cops are the difference,
they count, and no one, regardless of their academic
credentials, should attempt to persuade anyone
otherwise.

Medal of Valor

Speaking of cops counting and truly making a
difference, this month 13 Los Angeles police
officers will be receiving the Department’s highest
honor, the Medal of Valor.  These individuals
include:

Sergeant Hector Feliciano
Detective Richard Record
Officer Christopher Vasquez
Officer Carlos Figueroa
Officer Matthew Cundiff
Officer Mario Cardona
Officer Carlos Ocegueda
Officer Osvaldo Delgadillo
Officer Ralph Camarillo
Officer Laurissa Hulsebus
Officer Abel Muñoz
Officer Edwin Marron
Officer Mark Mireles

For Officer Mireles, this will be the second time he has received
this distinguished honor.  If you know any of these
officers, please make the effort to congratulate them
on their achievement. These outstanding officers are
representative of all of the dedicated men and women
of this Department and representative of the type of
officers we want to hire, as policing today requires
smart, aggressive, and creative men and women who
police with measured action, consistently,
compassionately, and constitutionally.  Cops count,
and they do make the difference when it comes to
making LA a safer city.

WILLIAM J. BRATTON
Chief of Police


CHIEF'S MESSAGE – August 2006

One of the most difficult jobs of any law enforcement organization is to build trust with a skeptical public.  By its very nature, policing is a job of enforcement.  Cops are considered bad guys because they force people to follow the law.  While what we do doesn’t always make for good public relations, our job is vital to preserving a free democratic society.

Everyday, the men and women of this Department are working hard to foster and gain the trust of the communities we work with.  Through a commitment to transparency and positive institutional change the Department continues to restore community confidence in the LAPD and markedly reduce crime.  These changes would not have been possible without a workforce comprised of civic-minded individuals committed to best practices in policing.

But to truly fulfill our vision to make LA the safest big city in the nation, I need more talented, hard working, dedicated cops.  Over the past several years my goals for the Department have remained the same – reduce crime and the fear it instills, fully implement the Consent Decree, and prevent and respond to acts of terrorism.  Now, I’m adding recruitment as my 4th goal.   

Over the next five years, the LAPD will be hiring 1,000 recruits, beginning with 650 new hires in fiscal year 2006/2007.  As we work to achieve recruitment and other Department goals we must remember that community partnerships built on trust will effect long-term social change in this City. It is my belief that transparency in our day-to-day operations inspires public support.  But transparency goes both ways.  We need to know, in a way that is not filtered through the media, what the public thinks about the job we are doing.

A few months ago the Department launched this new blog as a web-based tool to serve as a window into the LAPD.  As an online, interactive journal used to deliver real-time, unfiltered information, it has done a number of things to promote transparency.  It has allowed the Department to respond to criticism or misrepresentations without having our responses edited; it lets us gauge the public’s pulse; and it encourages that two-way communication.

Since its May launch, the blog has had over a 100,000 visits, averaging almost 2,000 daily.  In its brief existence, more than 500 comments have been generated in response to Department postings.  The Department reviews comments to ensure that they do not contain inappropriate remarks or profanity and they do not appear on our web log until approved.

At the outset, this blog’s primary purpose was to engage a local audience in open dialogue about current events.  It has done that and more.  Throughout the country and around the world—from the United Kingdom to Mexico—bloggers are blogging.

In May, for instance, a major counterfeiting-operation shutdown in Downtown Los Angeles prompted a flurry of discussion. During the two-day raid, officers seized $18.4 million worth of counterfeit designer-brand merchandise.

Regularly monitored by our command staff, sworn and civilian personnel, this blog item prompted our own people to participate in the online discussion.  Deputy Chief Mark Leap, Commanding Officer, LAPD Counter Terrorism Bureau, replied to a blogger who questioned the operation’s merit.  Deputy Chief Leap wrote, “Since September 11th, law enforcement in general, not just the LAPD, has linked counterfeit goods to terrorist funding… [These] investigations have resulted in disruptions of [terrorist activities] and should continue to be the focus of the LAPD.”

Another news item that generated many comments was the shooting of LAPD Officer Kristina Ripatti on June 3.  Bloggers expressed concern, empathy, and encouragement for Officer Ripatti, who suffered serious wounds after being struck twice by gunfire.

Similarly, a “Los Angeles Daily News” editorial titled, “Lowered Standards,” prompted rapid-fire dialogue.  The article referenced a proposal by Councilman Bernard Parks. The policy sought to reinstate a zero-tolerance mandate that would disqualify police officer candidates with any history of drug use.

In this instance, the blog allowed me to comment on the proposed policy and the subsequent “Daily News” article.  It gave me the opportunity to explain that our standards have, in fact, increased—in many respects—but that we have a practical and flexible hiring approach.  My response generated almost 30 comments. 

The torrent of e-chatter truly testifies to the blog’s success. Though the Department reserves the right to withhold comments that contain profanity or other inappropriate material, it does not shy away from posting criticism.

As this blog matures we will continue to expand its content, including sections for each geographic area.  Transparency, either through the media, our website—LAPDonline.org—or the LAPD Blog, helps us to connect with people in the communities we protect and serve. As we connect we are fostering trust and building the kinds of community relationships and partnerships that we need to be a successful and respected law enforcement organization.

WILLIAM J. BRATTON
Chief of Police


Chief's August Message

One of the most difficult jobs of any law enforcement organization is to build trust with a skeptical and often times antagonistic public. By its very nature, policing is a job of enforcement. Cops are considered bad guys because they forcepeople to follow the law. While whatwe do doesn’t always make for goodpublic relations, our job is vital topreserving a free democratic society.

Everyday you, the men and women of this Department, are working hard to foster and gain the trust of the communities we work with. Through a commitment to transparency and positive institutional change the Department continues to restore community confidence in the LAPD and markedly reduce crime. These changes would not have been possible without a workforce comprised of civic-minded individuals committed to best practices in policing.

But to truly fulfill our vision to make LA the safest big city in the nation, I need more of you–talented, hard working, dedicated cops. Over the past several years my goals for the Department have remained the same–reduce crime and the fear it instills, fully implement the Consent Decree, and prevent and respond to acts of terrorism. Now, I’m adding recruitment as my fourth goal.

Over the next five years, the LAPD will be hiring 1,000 recruits, beginning with 650 new hires in fiscal year 2006/2007. In the past, LAPD employees,sworn and civilian, have recommended the best recruits. I encourage you to seek prospective applicants among your family, friends, and civilian colleagues. Additionally, you stand to benefit from the Police Officer Recruitment Incentive Program. Current and retired City employees can earn up to $1,000 when a recommended candidate graduates from the Police Academy.

As we work to achieve recruitment and other Department goals we must remember that community partnerships built on trust will effect long-term social change in this city. It is my belief that transparency in our day-to-day operations inspires public support. But transparency goes both ways. We need to know, in a way that is not filtered through the media, what the public thinks about the job we are doing.

A few months ago the Department launched a new web-based tool to serve as a window into the LAPD. The LAPD Blog (LAPDBlog.org), an online, interactive journal used to deliver real-time, unfiltered information, does a number of things to promote transparency. It allows us to respond to criticism or misrepresentations without having our responses edited; it lets us gauge the public’s pulse; and it encourages that two-waycommunication.

Since its May launch, the blog has had over a 100,000 visits, averaging almost 2,000 daily. In its brief existence, more than 500 comments have been generated in response to Department postings. The Department reviews comments to ensure that they do not contain inappropriate remarks or profanity and they do not appear on our web log until approved.

At the outset, the blog’s primary purpose was to engage a local audience in open dialogue about current events. It has done that and more. Throughout the country and around the world—from the United Kingdom to Mexico—bloggers are blogging.

In May, for instance, a major counterfeiting-operation shutdown in Downtown Los Angeles prompted a flurry of discussion. During the two-day raid, officers seized $18.4 million worth of counterfeit designer-brand merchandise.

Regularly monitored by our command staff, sworn and civilian personnel, this blog item prompted our own people to participate in the online discussion. Deputy Chief Mark Leap, Commanding Officer, LAPD Counter Terrorism Bureau, replied to a blogger who questioned the operation’s merit. Deputy Chief Leap wrote, “Since September 11th, law enforcement in general, not just the LAPD, has linked counterfeit goods to terrorist funding…[These] investigations have resulted in disruptions of [terrorist activities] and should continue to be the focus of theLAPD.”

Another news item that generated many comments was the shooting of LAPD Officer Kristina Ripatti on June 3. Bloggers expressed concern, empathy, and encouragement for Officer Ripatti, who suffered serious wounds after being struck twice by gunfire.
Similarly, a Los Angeles Daily News editorial titled, Lowered Standards, prompted rapid-fire dialogue. The article referenced a proposal by Councilman Bernard Parks. The policy sought to reinstate a zero-tolerance mandate that would disqualify police officer candidates with any history of drug use.

In this instance, the blog allowed me to comment on the proposed policy and the subsequent Daily News article. It gave me the opportunity to explain that our standards have, in fact, increased—in many respects—but that we have a practical and flexible hiring approach. My response generated almost 30 comments.

The torrent of e-chatter truly testifies to the blog’s success. Though the Department reserves the right to withhold comments that contain profanity or other inappropriate material, it does not shy away from posting criticism.

As the blog matures we willcontinue to expand its content,including sections for each geographic area. Transparency, whether through television, radio, newspaper, our website LAPDonline.org or the LAPDBlog, helps us to connect with people in the communities we protect and serve. As we connect we are fostering trust and building the kinds of community relationships and partnerships that we need to be a successful and respected law enforcement organization.


Chief's June Message

In America’s second largest city, our dedication to public safety must be a commitment second to none. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s 6.7 billion-dollar budget for the City of Los Angeles, unveiled in April, reflects this priority.

With its emphasis on expanding the Department, the proposed 2006/2007 fiscal plan would allocate funds to begin the expansion of the Department by 1,000 additional police officers, purchase state-of-the-art police equipment, make technology improvements, and communication enhancements. Planned funding would come from an increase in the City’s trash collection fees, currently one of the lowest in the county.

The 1,000-officer build-up begins with the hiring of 650 new officers, to replace retiring officers, for fiscal year 2006/2007. This sets in motion a five year hiring plan to reach the mayor’s goal of 1,000 additional officers.

Recognizing the correlation between state-of-the-art equipment and technology, and safe and effective policing, $31 million has been budgeted to continue the Department’s vehicle replacement program, $5.2 million for new vehicles, and $5.2 million to replace two helicopters. Two other replacement helicopters are scheduled to be delivered later this year. The budget also includes $4.4 million for standard technology replacement and to provide field officers with immediate access to other agency databases using wireless data cards. Additionally, $5 million has been allocated from the year-end 2005/2006 budget to begin the replacement of police portable radios over the next several years.

I believe one of the most important allocations in the Mayor’s budget, and a clear testament to his commitment of support for the men and women of this Department, is the funding he has earmarked for the installation of video cameras in patrol cars. Using money proposed in the 2006/2007 budget, there would be enough funding to install in-car camera systems in four geographic Areas next year. The Cameras will, in effect, improve accountability, ensure the highest levels of officer integrity and provide concrete evidence for investigations into alleged misconduct. These video cameras will be an officer’s strongest ally against false or erroneous complaints. You have often heard me say, “you can expect what you inspect.” To that end, and to continue our policy of transparency and accountability, the budget provides more funding for the Office of the Inspector General and the Civil Rights Integrity, Audit and Force Investigation Divisions.

In addition to increased funding as a means to expand our ranks, the command staff and I are always looking for innovative ways to maximize the limited resources we have. One new program with a mission to reduce crime and improve relations with our communities, is the recruit footbeats. Recent media reports prove the program is working; crime is down in the areas where the recruits walk and those who live and work in the city now feel they have a better relationship with the LAPD. The program also benefits the recruits by giving them hands-on experience and face to face contact with residents and business owners in community policing. This kind of innovative thinking and intelligent deployment continues to help in driving down crime in Los Angeles, and reducing fear. In the future, we will see even more positive results as we hire more officers and step up police presence on our City streets.

While on patrol, whether walking or driving, there are two officer safety issues that have come to my attention that I feel need to be addressed. Regarding ballistic vests, a special order is in the works that will require sworn personnel to wear body armor at all times while engaged in uniform field duties. The order will not apply to officers in administrative positions, but will impact civilian personnel assisting in preplanned tactical operations and during potentially violent situations in the field. These will include audio-visual technicians, forensic print specialists, photographers, criminalists, and police surveillance specialists, among others.

In reference to auto accident injuries, in 2005, there were close to 400 minor to moderate traffic collisions involving officers on duty in patrol vehicles. In 21 of those incidences, officers violated Department policy by not wearing seatbelts. Remember, it is statistically more likely for officers to be killed in a traffic collision than in an officer involved shooting. Though at present, a majority of our officers are compliant regarding seatbelt use, it is crucial that we achieve 100 percent compliance. While I understand that from a tactical standpoint there may be some instances where you may not always be able to buckle up, I expect you to wear your seatbelt when performing your usual day-to-day duties. Not only is this an officer safety issue, but also an integrity issue. As law enforcement professionals granted the power to cite offenders of the State’s seatbelt law, we must also lead by example. (I should note that I am aware of the fold down armrest issue in the new Crown Victorias and we are working to address correcting that problem as quickly as possible).

On the issue of responsible policing, I want to again remind everyone that Department databases that offer highly sensitive information, including Department of Motor Vehicle and criminal history records, are to always be used in a professional and ethical manner. These resources are meant to facilitate prosecution in criminal cases. They are not resources for other employment interests or personal use. Accessing these databases for anything other than Department-related business is against Department policy, and may be against the law as well. Let me be very clear, if you are caught accessing information that is in violation of Department policy, you will face severe disciplinary action, and possible criminal prosecution.

During a recent meeting with senior staff, it came to my attention that penalties for the damage or loss of critical equipment such as radios and firearms were either unduly severe or extremely lenient. As a result, we are now working to differentiate degrees of penalties based on the potential for harm and monetary worth of the item, as well as negligent considerations. So, anticipate more serious consequences, including a minimum of five days suspension, if you damage or lose radios or your duty weapons.

Finally, the Department has begun installing 1,550 Dell Mobile Data Computers or MDCs in patrol and traffic vehicles, including hybrids. The notebook computers will replace the Mobile Digital Terminals (MDT). Though we had hoped to finalize installation by March, technical issues delayed this goal. We are now back on track. In April, the entire fleet of patrol vehicles in Southeast Area had the computers installed; southwest Area followed. MDC installation is expected to continue in other Areas through July. For the first time Gang and Motor units will have these devices.

Through improved technology, increased staffing and creative use of resources we continue to prove crime can be driven down even more. But the bottom-line to making Los Angeles an even safer city is you, and your commitment to leading by example. We have a golden opportunity to build upon our successes of the past several years, make changes for the better internally and build bridges of trust with our communities. During this next fiscal year, if approved by the City Council, the budget will finally give us more of the tools we need to reach the tipping point and make Los Angeles the safest big city in America. I have no doubt that the men and women of this Department, given the proper resources and support, will seize the opportunity.


Chief's April Message

Let’s Put It Into Perspective

In an effort to conduct Los Angeles Police Department business in the most transparent way we can, the Department routinely releases information to the public and to media outlets. This is especially important when the information released is required under the conditions of the Consent Decree. Although our intent is to be as open as possible, sometimes in a rush to interpret the information, the media offers comparative analysis that is neither sound nor logical. Such is the case in the release of the Department’s 2005 Annual Complaint Report.

The Annual Complaint Report is a summary of internal and external complaints. It is one of several auditing tools and resources we use to monitor employees and ensure quality police service. Such practices speak to our commitment to fostering public trust through transparency. The report complements existing Department safeguards including Training Evaluation and Management System (TEAMS); civilian oversight by the Police Commission and its investigative arm, the Inspector General’s office, and audit operations by Internal Affairs.

When the Annual Complaint Report was released last month and presented to the Police Commission, the news media emphasized discrepancies in numbers between 2005 and the previous year. Headlines read “Complaints Up, Discipline Down,” and media analysis of the report created the perception that complaints had risen and disciplinary action declined because we are unwilling to “police the police.”

So let me try and put this into some kind of context for everyone, a difficult thing when we are dealing with lots of numbers over lots of years and with a lot of variables.

Here is a table that shows the number of complaints that came in, the number of complaints that were sustained, and the number that were closed.

When you compare 2005, with an intake of 6,520 complaints, to the 6,471 in 2004, there is an increase: 49 complaints. In my opinion, hardly headline material. In fact, when you look just at public complaints, our overall number dropped by 34. When you factor in the number of police/public contacts, which number in the millions, 6,520 filed complaints barely registers as one percent. If you look at the resolution of those complaints after they are investigated, roughly 20 to 25 percent of the total are sustained or proven to be true. From my perspective, and as most cops understand, the more we engage with the public—the more arrests we make, the more FIs and traffic citations we write—the more opportunities there are for conflict, dissatisfaction and public complaints. We may strive to make our contacts positive and helpful, but aggressive, self-initiated policing that drives down crime in this City to historic lows can in itself create a rise in complaints.

Comparing fewer disciplinary actions from one year to the next is also a problem when complaints received in one calendar year may not close in that same year. Occasionally, they may take up to two years to clear. Cases can be delayed for a number of reasons including pending Board of Rights findings, criminal filing decisions by the District Attorney’s Office or pending civil litigation. That said, the information in the Annual Complaint Report does not represent patterns of misconduct over a specific reporting year. One of the reasons that the 2004 figures on discipline are high, which make the 2005 figures look low, is the fact that a concerted effort was made in 2004 to clear a backlog of complaints from the previous year. The media analysis, which never mentioned that they were comparing different totals, was that the Department is reluctant to punish officers found guilty of misconduct and so discipline is down.

Although lower disciplinary figures from one year to the next can appear troubling if the public perceives heavyhanded and unfair enforcement, fewer disciplinary actions is my goal. From my perspective, it shows that cops are doing their jobs well: compassionately, consistently, and constitutionally. Cops who are doing their jobs as they are trained to do require little corrective action and receive fewer penalties.

We are doing the right thing in regard to discipline through a multipronged approach. No good cop wants to work with a bad cop. No good cop wants a bad cop in their Department and especially not our beloved LAPD. So we want to focus our internal affairs efforts against that small group of officers who do engage in misconduct.

How do we do that? First, we want every complaint. You must take every complaint and we, as a Department, must document every complaint. To my knowledge we are the only police department in the United States that “tests” whether we are in fact taking complaints. But taking complaints and documenting them just leads us to the second prong of our system.

With the Police Commission, we created a non-disciplinary catalog of result. If after taking the complaint and investigating it, we determine that it is not valid or not misconduct, we can close it as non-disciplinary in nature. Currently, we close almost 40% of our complaints as non-disciplinary. But remember, even non-disciplinary does not automatically mean that we were pleased with an officer’s actions. What it means is that the officer’s conduct did not warrant a disciplinary investigation and sanction. When we find that an officer’s conduct is lacking but not misconduct, we are taking remedial actions. We then have the ability to focus our investigative efforts on the matters that are more likely to bring us to problem officers, the ones who we do not want in our Department.

Thirdly, we have dramatically reduced the number of Boards of Rights (BOR) that we direct officers to by clarifying our approach to discipline. The intent of discipline is to change behavior. I have adopted the approach that if a 22-day suspension (the maximum I can impose without a BOR) will not modify your behavior, then you probably should not be a member of the LAPD. Our directed BORs have gone from 121 in 2002, to 68 in 2003, to 29 in 2004, and 53 in 2005. These are historical lows.

The results are also historic: if found guilty, the penalty is much more likely to be a removal. So everyone should know that if you are directed to a BOR, it can be, and oftentimes is, a true effort to remove an officer from the Department. We are focusing our efforts on those few among us who should not have the right to wear our badge and uniform. The table on page 7 represents the number of BORs held in each year that were directed by the Chief of Police and Removals resulting from them.

Finally, playing a small but critical role in the multi-pronged approach to discipline, and in reducing BOR cases, is the concept of settling cases. In 2003, we adopted a practice followed by virtually every single department in this state: we allow for the settlement of some—let me stress that, some—discipline cases. Since 2003, out of almost 20,000 complaints, we have settled less than 280 cases. What is significant about this is that a number of them, if not settled, would have ended up in officers opting for BORs. It is a very small number and we only do it after a great deal of review, discussion, and agreement. This small number of cases over the past three years has had a positive impact for both the involved officers and the Department. It allows an officer to accept responsibility for their actions and allows the Department to document corrective measures, while getting the officer back to work quickly.

As this organization continues to change and improve, representative data and official reports will often reflect anomalies and inconsistencies. I expect that. “Business as usual” is no more, and trends will shift dramatically as this organization continues to redefine itself. We have seen the notable downward shift in our crime numbers. We are now witnessing shifts in other areas as well.

In closing let me be very clear: I have no tolerance for intentional misconduct and will deal with it very harshly. I have proven that over the past three years. However, I understand that sometimes policing isn’t pretty and there is little if any time for reflection and discussion before action. I understand that wellintentioned police officers can and will make mistakes and I will give them the benefit of the doubt. We will continue to move forward, we will continue to treat and prevent misconduct by providing training, good supervision, and great leadership. And when we find misconduct, we will deal with it swiftly, forcefully, and aggressively.


Chief's February Message

If you were to look up the definition of “transparent,” Merriam-Webster’s dictionary gives three examples of the meaning of the word: free of pretense or deceit, easily detected, and readily understood. When applied to a law enforcement organization, it becomes clear that transparency must exist in order to accomplish what I believe is a key objective: establish and maintain the trust of the communities that we are sworn to protect and serve. Being a transparent organization is essential in building that trust and in our day-to-day operations.

The Board of Police Commissioners has begun efforts to make the LAPD more transparent. At the December 13, 2005 meeting, Commissioners unanimously adopted a new procedure regarding the release of information on Categorical Use of Force cases to the public. The new procedure, which began on January 1 of this year, allows for the Commission’s Inspector General to publicize, on the Department’s website, summaries of Categorical Use of Force incidents. Although the information publicized will include relevant facts surrounding the incidents, as well as the Police
Commission’s ruling on policy issues, no officers’ names will be released.

Mayor Villaraigosa endorsed this effort and applauded the Police Commission for this significant step that ensures that the public is fully informed on all Categorical Use of Force cases. The Los Angeles Police Protective League also supports this move, in part. While not in agreement that the information should be placed on the Department’s
website, the League agrees a balance has been struck by providing as much information as possible without revealing personal information about the involved officers or disclosing sensitive tactical maneuvers and procedures.

In short, this is a win-win situation for all, and a decision that I, too, fully support. As Police Commissioner Anthony Pacheco said when the action was approved, “This is a defining moment in transparency.”

Another issue being discussed by the Police Commission, and one that has caught the attention of the Federal Consent Decree Monitor and the media, is the issue of cameras in patrol cars. As one of the original recommendations of the Christopher Commission, this idea has been considered, studied, and debated since 1991. The Department even had a pilot program in the late 1990s. But because of budgetary constraints and
videotape storage issues, video cameras were not put into the Department’s fleet of black and whites.

With the ongoing challenges of analyzing traffic-stop data to determine the likelihood of racial profiling and advances in recording technology, digital video cameras in patrol vehicles are a viable and effective method of providing transparent documentation of incidents.

Digital video cameras in patrol cars are not something that police officers should fear but rather should welcome and praise, as this technology can resolve many of the issues that arise when an officer takes enforcement action. These would include the “he said, she said” scenarios, and issues that arise relating to use of appropriate force, especially when dealing with combative or uncooperative suspects. If officers are enforcing the law constitutionally, compassionately, and consistently, video cameras in patrol cars will serve as their strongest allies. The images provided by these cameras
would prove to be valuable tools when use of force issues are being scrutinized
and when fighting false complaints. A study done by the International Association of Chiefs of Police revealed that once a complainant was made aware that the traffic stop or contact was recorded, more than 50 percent of the time the complaint was withdrawn. These cameras will also provide stronger evidence in the debate over racial profiling.

The initial cost of outfitting patrol vehicles with digital video cameras and supporting infrastructure is estimated at $25 million. But the returns are far
more valuable. Based on conservative Department estimates, the cost savings and reduction in City liability costs as a direct result of fewer complaint investigations,
would help pay for the cameras in about six years. Add to that the increased public confidence in the Department’s commitment to transparency, and our ability to
provide more objective and credible criminal and administrative investigations, the expenditure would be well worth the initial investment.

As with the public release of Categorical Use of Force information, the Police Commission, the Police Protective League and I all strongly support the use of digital video cameras in patrol vehicles. Both of these measures will help the men and women of this Department do the job they are hired to do: protect and serve the people of this City in a transparent way, free from pretense or deceit, easily detected and readily understood.