Chief Bratton Speaks Regarding Video-Taped Arrests
COMPSTAT Citywide Profile

Chief's Response to Daily News Article

I read with interest and some initial concern, Mariel Garza's column in the November 13, 2006, Daily News, "LA's an Armed Camp in Minds of its Police."  But I could not let some of Ms. Garza's points go without a comment, particularly when my staff's review of her assertions addressed my initial concerns.

One would expect a journalist, or in this case journalism students, be prepared for and understand how to ask for information they are entitled to from law enforcement organizations.  After much research and fact finding after the fact, it became clear; Garza's students were not prepared for this assignment.

For example, a management analyst who works in the Devonshire Area Crime Analysis Detail spent a great deal of time trying to help five of Garza's California State University Northridge students.  They asked for specific crime information under the "Freedom of Information Act," not the "California Public Records Act (CPRA)."  There is a difference; the Freedom of Information Act pertains to requests for federal records, and the CPRA deals with requests for information from state and local agencies.  According to the analyst, the students insisted they be given crime information under the Freedom of Information Act.   

Garza's column also did not explain that the CPRA requires that "access be immediate and allowed at all times."  However, "staff need not disrupt operations to allow immediate access, but a decision whether to grant access must be prompt."  One surely cannot expect a police division in the Valley that on average responds to over 700 calls for service in a week, handles over 300 crime and arrest reports in a week to drop everything when a student walks in and wants crime information and wants it now. 

That's why the LAPD goes to great lengths to make that information available through its Public Information Office, Media Relations Section and  In March, the Department re-launched its website with more information than ever before including weekly updates of citywide crime statistics and a new state of the art tool called LAPD Crime Maps.  It allows users, including college journalism students, the ability to find out exactly what crimes are happening, when and where in the city.  Reporters should be encouraged to utilize the resources already available to them.  If it is crime blotter information they want, that information is routinely provided to local newspapers by the area police stations through their Crime Analysis Units.  The LAPD's Records and Identification Division routinely provides a crime blotter service to news agencies. 

When some of the students did reach out to the Department's Media Relations Section, they did not, as Ms. Garza claims, ask for crime blotter information.    One student in particular wanted a copy of a watch commander's log, which is not the same as crime blotter information.  When an officer asked her what day and what shift, the student didn't know.  She was asked to be more specific and please send her request to Media Relations in an e-mail.  She never did.  Watch commander logs are not considered public records because they contain communications between the shift supervisor and that particular police station's captain.  Since the logs may contain confidential information, like a victim's personal phone number, such documents are not de facto public information.  I'm sure the public would expect the Department to protect confidential information and not release it to inquiring news reporters or journalism students.

The Department works with dozens of different reporters every day.  Many have a misconception about the CPRA and how to use it to get information.  In 95% of the requests, reporters don't need to invoke the CPRA; we're more than happy to help them get their information.  But when they do invoke it, specific protocols are followed and the Department's Discovery Unit ultimately decides which CPRA request can be honored.

Ask any police-beat reporter how often they need to invoke CPRA to get information -- their answer will likely be, rarely.  Being a good reporter means knowing what information one is entitled to, finding and relying on sources and contacts to get information, as well as learning how to utilize the Department's website for crime statistics.  It also means having a clear understanding of the difference between the Freedom of Information Act and the California Public Records Act.  That's a lesson that hopefully Garza will teach her students.  I offer the services of my staff to help Garza's students learn how to work with the Department to get the information they need, understand what information is already available to the public, and how to access it.

Chief of Police


While I agree with the chief's comments I think he is a hypocrite.

This is the same type of circus act the department engages in when utilzing many of their random integrity tests. The department goes out of it's way to fabricate mysterious complaints in order for supervisors to interupt their daily operations of supervising and endless projects to respond to the ridiculous and fabricated allegations.

Funny when the tables are turned on Bratton and all he can do is whine about it and compain about some technical wording screw up on the part of th students.

The quality of a report/editorial is a reflection of the author.

It appears that Mariel Garza failed to verify and re-verify her students allegations before putting it on print. I even looked up the crime trends in my neighborhood by using the LAPD web site.

I hope the other reporters of the Daily News don't have the same work ethics as Mariel Garza.

Does being a good chief of police mean determining what being a good reporter means?

It seems as though the press is conducting it's own sting operation, ala IA's 'Ethics Enforcement Section'.

Hurts to be stung huh Chief?

I do not know Ms. Garza or any of her students, but I think the Chief completely missed the point on this. As a working member of the media that deals with the LAPD at least once a week, I often come upon the rudest of the rude. I cannot tell you how many times I have politely said to an officer "Excuse me, Sir." as I sought direction or was about to ask for a LT. only to in turn be screamed at. I often wonder, if they treat the Press like this, how do they treat the average citizen? The LAPD has a horrific image in the communities they serve. What they need is to add a basic "manners and politeness" course to their Academy classes. And yes, there are very nice officers on the beat but unfortunatly Chief Bratton, you have way too many bad apples on your force. I think when you begin to demand that your officers treat the public with the respect most deserve, as well as hold officers who don't accountbale -- then Chief, you may start to see a community that will respect and cooperate with your officers much more.

While I can appreciate your points, this story reminds me that there are most certainly big problems with the way the police interact with the public in L.A.

As a lifelong Angeleno and also a onetime NYU student living in Greenwich Village I've had the opportunity to see the vast difference between the demeanor of police on the beat in both cities. A direct comparison: visiting NYC after a long absence, I approached two beat cops on a corner and asked about the location of something or other. The policemen responded with good humor and friendly, brisk, to-the-point information. I walked away with a smile, knowing where I was going. Around the same time period here in Glendale on a major street in the mid-afternoon I was looking for a government office. Two officers were sitting in a patrol car, not on the radio, not eating, not appearing to do anything but take a break. Nothing wrong with that, certainly--but I felt that I might approach and ask if they could point me to the right block of Glendale Ave. I was met with hostile stares and a manner from both men that truly frigtened me. I was respectful, brief in my question and had walked slowly to the window asking "Excuse me, officers?" But the reaction was just--well, it was chilling. And frankly ridiculous. I was a 30 year old white female, well-dressed; 5' tall and 100 lbs--just to give you a picture. The officers didn't reply to my request for any broad directions and shrugged me off with scowls. I felt lucky they hadn't pulled guns on me for having the audacity to speak to them.

This contrast tells me there's something badly wrong with the attitude of L.A. police towards the "average citizen". There's virtually no warmth or help, much more often a kind of paranoid aloofness. I wish this culture of iciness could be thawed.

The Chief's response to the Garza article was right on target.

First, if you wish to obtain information,under the law, then follow the law and seek it the right way or don't expect to get it.

Second, it is about time that all reporters begin to access good stories about the fine men and women of this Department(and there are many of them), instead of constantly trying to dig to find whatever they can to attempt to stain the Department and all who work there.

If the press really wants cooperation and transparency in dealing with the Department, then it would be most helpful if they used that cooperation and transparency in an fair and objective manner and with the same integrity, restrain and care with which they expect our Department and it's sworn officers to operate.

Thank you LAPD for the job that you do in protecting our citizens and the risks that you take personally in protecting our community, while grossly understaffed, underpaid and shy of the equipment necessary to put you on equal footing with the criminals whom you confront on a daily basis. You are very much appreciated by the vast majority of our citizens.

Emily, if you were in Glendale, on Glendale Avenue, and looking for a government building, you were in the City of Glendale, and those were Glendale PD officers, not LAPD... Please get your facts and geography straight before you accuse our officers of this type of behavior.

Maybe if you were actually in Los Angeles and not Glendale, you would have a point. Suggestion: Get a map.

Thank you, Chief Bratton, for fostering this frank discourse. But I am distressed to see you splitting legal hairs.

What does it matter how exactly the questions from the cub reporters were phrased?

The public records law is, per se, a freedom of information act. If a citizen wishes to obtain public records under the CRPA, he is clearly understood to be invoking CRPA even if he says it is a freedom of information act request - the CRPA is a "freedom of infromation act."

And the issue is not whether the records were eventually produced - it was the attitide of the officers when confronted with an amateur, or professional, or student, or citizen.

There is no requirement that a reporter - much less a member of the public citrizenry - use the exact name of the statute when requesting a public document under the theory - foreign to so many at LAPD - of freedom of information.

These are reporters, not lawyers.

My experience of 20 years of dealing with LAPD officers as a newspaper reporter or TV assignment editor has been an impression of a worsening level of civility and politeness. Maybe society has declined on a similar level, maybe we hold cops up to a higher level.

A desk officer saying that the students' request was invalid because the wrong law is simply an act of playing dumb. A chief of police playing legal "gotcha" like this is simply unfathomable.

Chief, with all due respect, your reaction here is not appropriate. I think you owe the professor a reconsideration, and the public a better level of performance than demanding an exact citation of the law from mere citizens asking for public documents.

Again, thank you for considering this.

Hans Laetz,
Freelancer reporter, Malibu Surfside News

Hans --

Yes, the chief may be splitting hairs, but both you and he are missing the point. Honestly, what was Ms. Garza accomplishing by unleashing a horde of student reporters upon the police station to make a vague request for a "daily crime log"? When was the last time you ever made use of such a document, Hans? When do you think the last time was that the desk officer got this kind of request?

I covered the LAPD and large departments in South Florida and Chicago, and the LAPD desk people were no more gruff than anywhere else. I don't remember once asking for a "daily crime log." Police reporting involved listening to the scanner, making beat checks by phone, visiting the stations occasionally, and developing relationships with the detectives and the detective supervisors.

The only thing remotely close, in my memory, to a practical use for a "crime log" was the daily citywide incident sheet that was maintained at the Chicago Police Department's First Deputy Superintendent's Office at the old 11th and State headquarters building. Every major incident, fatal accident, and homicide made "the sheet." We would look at "the sheet" by politely asking permission to bend over the counter and read it upside down in the typewriter. These are the experiences that make police reporters. We learned how to open doors at the police stations, not how to have them slammed in our faces.

Ms. Garza's silly exercise was bound to generate confusion and miscommunication. It didn't bear anything close to a lesson in real police reporting or journalism. (Recommended student reading: "The Cop Shop" by Robert Blau.) But the exercise did generate a nice column for Ms. Garza, didn't it? I don't think she regularly covers the police anyway, so some other poor schmoe on the cop beat probably had to deal with her mess.

Typical Daily News, always making something of nothing, always claiming to be journalistic champions breaking new ground, when all they're breaking is wind. Oh, for a chance to kick their butts on a story again ....

I remain neutral on this discussion since I didn't read the Daily New article. However, I was disappointed to see the Chief fall into the misuse of the word "hopefully," an adverb: "That's a lesson that hopefully Garza will teach her students." The Chief ought to know that one proper way of saying what he meant is to say, "That's a lesson that I hope Garza will teach her students."


My first experience asking for daily crime log information was in a Reporting Public Affairs class in college, where we were instructed to go to the police department - all 25 of us - and find the documents. Just like CSUN. Some cops didn't like it, but it was part of their job.

My next experience asking for daily crime logs was at a 40,000-circulation daily, where we also given free access - by often grumpy cops. But we checked every day.

At my first newspaper job, at age 19, checking the daily cop logs revealed that stolen cars, abandoned in city storage yards, were being quitclaimed by someone with the same name as the longtime county sheriff. Turns out it was indeed the sheriff, and eventually he got convicted for embezzlement, and removed from office.

What Ms. Garza attempts to achieve by unleashing a horde of journalism students on the LAPD is threefold:

(1) It gives the students practical experience in how difficult it is to pry public information out of public officials.

(2) It reminds LAPD of their public obligation. Notice the word obligation.

(3) It reminds the Daily News, LA Times and other big city journalists what real, old fashioned copshop reporting is based on.

That is exactly what a journalism school is supposed to do. Yes, that story was vintage Daily News. That's why I buy the Daily News.

The fact that LA is so huge means that reporters have gotten lazy, and have ceded an enormous tool back to the police. It is physically impractical for any news agency to check the - how many, 15? 17? - LAPD divisions daily.

When was the last time I checked a daily copshop log? Too long ago, perhaps I should be checking in at my local sheriff's office once a week, for the small weekly I write for now.

That was no silly exercise, it is an important teaching tool used by universities across the nation. I think it should have taught LAPD an important lesson, too, one that may have been lost on them.

Anyone who reads the Daily News knows Mariel Garza. She is a typical anti-police journalist who uses her position as "professor" and reporter as a weapon to make fun of, and embarass the LAPD at every opportunity. She is what is called a "biased, self-serving" reporter, of which the L.A. Times is still employing by the dozens.

On the right side of this very blog page there is a list of LAPD Links, and one of them is the Crime Maps link. There, any reporter can look up crime occurrences anywhere in the city and the search will reveal the case number. Anyone needing a copy of the specific report can call the Records and Identification unit downtown at (213) 485-4193, give them the report number and send them the fee to obtain a copy of the report.

See? Nothing to it. Sending 25 journalist students to a police station and overwhelming the front desk officers, who spend 24 hours a day answering phone calls and assisting people with reporting crimes, is a disservice to the community that police station serves, is a waste of the students' time, and is a way for Ms. Garza to generate a story so she herself can write another article bitching and moaning about the LAPD.

Is that self-serving or what? If the Daily News keeps up with this nonsense, they will have become another L.A. Times and I'll have to also cancel that subscription.


Let me keep a straight face while some pencil-pusher suggests that I wait a week for the map to appear...

And then mail a fee and a file number to the records department....

And then wait for the file to be pulled, copied and mailed....

How long will that take? It took me eight weeks to get a traffic accident report following that procedure.

That's not reporting, that's watching moss grow. Some LAPD bureaucrat might consider that responsive. The public, the press, and the CPRA would respectfully say otherwise.

Writings like the above - assuming it comes from a police officer - speak worlds about LAPD and the very culture that the professor/columist rightly criticised.

But the above anonymous, ad hominem attack against a "journalist" and "professor" - in quote marks - is both cowardly and sniveling. I'm shocked that the LAPD blog would contenance it. I'm not shocked, however, that someone within LAPD would write it.

Personally, I am not afraid to have this discussion, and to stand behind my opinions with my name. I find it very telling that an LAPD officer would post the above, and with a straight face say that satisfies either the letter or the intent of the law.

Hans Laetz

Hans, you make some pretty good points, especially on the lesson of getting information out of recalcitrant public officials with narrow views of their obligations. I still think this was not the right way to do it. I don't think it's fair to the agency to show up out of the blue at the front desk and ask for a vaguely defined set of materials. Better to figure out in advance what it is we want, what they have, and go through channels to request it. Then if they say no, the city attorney can defend a Public Records Act lawsuit. So I still don't think the column was fair. And I still say if you are reading the Daily News, you're getting a whole lot of nothing. Happy hunting.

Did I say Glendale? I was actually on Glendale in the NORTHEAST DIVISION area at the time. D'OH!

The point I made is the same, regardless of paring streets here. I've lived in Los Angeles all my life and seen firsthand MUCH too much hostility and rudeness from the beat police of the LAPD--AND the surrounding areas, yes, those as well. I speak from personal experience over 30 years, and different Chiefs of Police. I have no particular chips on my shoulder-it in fact saddens me to have to report my experiences. I have met individual policepersons who are pleasant--but FAR too few of them. This is well known as an endemic problem here in LOS ANGELES, so before I "get a map" as per your helpful suggestion, why don't you listen to what I'm saying? or do you feel that much better thinking "it's Glendale--NOTHING to do with LAPD". Please.

Now, Emily. NE division has some of the most impeccably professional officers in CA. If they are cool with you and business only, it is because there are some people, females in particular, who take any sign of friendliness as an invitation to undress. I'm not exaggerating. Unless an officer called you ugly and told you your mom dressed you funny, try and remember these individuals are working in a hypervigilant state, trying to stay alive for their kids. And they encounter us civilians doing some of the dumbest things all day, every day, things that put everyone at risk for life or limb. I don't care if they smile and wave, as long as they make it home alive at the end of the day, and don't eat their guns at night.


You appear to have a very one sided view of what you feel the police owe you as an "obligation" for the news or your school paper. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the proper and correct education of journalists on how to navigate their trade. I do take issue with the methods in which that education is being applied. I know many people who share my opinion on this. What could possibly be the purpose of sending misinformed people out to the four corners of the city without thoroughly educating them on the proper procedures and list of the correct titles of the forms that allegedly the law allows them to have access to? If in fact your assignment was an exercise in futility, then they should all get "A's".

Being a journalist doesn't give you license for anything and everything you want whenever you demand it. You are "allowed" as the inquiring public, by law, to have access to certain forms and information. I highly doubt that any law would ever be instituted that would say that the public is owed this information, "on demand." That's why there are processes already in place to request this information. And that is not just the police departments. That's all public records. That's why there are administrative costs to this. Multiply your request by thousands citywide, and that expense adds up.

I'd love to see you go to City Hall and get one of their records on demand and see how far you get and how long it takes. A city this large has to be responsible for the appropriate distribution of information, and that takes time. This isn't Mayberry. Even the police divisions that the students went to, are responsible for the security of information literally for muliple cities and millions of records, which are in fact, people.

What you and many of your compatriots continually fail to recognize, is that the police deal in privileged and sensitive information which you are NOT entitled to, which may be reflected on forms in which the public DOES have access too. I sincerely hope, that you would agree, a persons private information is not just handed out to the public, if it is not approved to do so. Wouldn't you want the same courtesy if that were your private information or situation? That's why these lengthy processes are put in place, to protect the rights of everyone, and in doing so, it may not be convenient to YOU in particular while still trying to provide what you want.

I have read the article. Many of the students did not have the negative contact that was so glaring in Ms. Garzas article, and to my knowledge, many of the students were in fact informed of the proper procedures to obtain them. Unfortunately, Ms. Garza gave an unrealistic deadline for this event, and I'm pretty sure, she already knew that. It's like statistics, numbers are just numbers, and they can tell you anything. It's how you interpret them that makes news or doesn't make news.

Your teacher obviously had an agenda she was trying to impose on her students. The way in which she chose to present the information she gleened from this ridiculous exercise, was to create "evidence" supporting her claim that the police are the enemy in which she has to create a cause to champion. And the more students she can turn on to this hostile, anti-authoritarian and skewed view, the more one sided the education. Education should be thought provoking and unbiased, not just anti-establishment. That kind of thinking serves no one, and hurts everyone in the long run. Proof of that is in the pudding. Just look around at the world those types of thinkers have created.

Maybe you should take a step back and make sure that you are addressing the right issues instead of making sweeping generalizations. If you think that it's so difficult being the public walking into a police station to get obscure information, try this. Have your teacher assign her students to volunteer at the police lobby desks answering phones and giving out information and answers the public expects you to have, all day long. Now you have something to compare as to what what is more difficult. Getting a crime log, or negotiating with a person who wants the police to respond because they didn't get the right burger from the drive through at Jack-in-the-Box. Find out first hand what the public expects from you and see how well you deliver if you think it's so easy. Being the public, or being the police. You may be surprised what you find out. Who knows, one of her students may actually learn something other than anti-establishment hate rhetoric.

I have been to college, and I could barely stomach the hate speak that I was forced to endure by so-called professors. I could call them elephants, but it doesn't make them so. Just as being called educators, doesn't make them effective teachers. Just op-ed orators with an agenda and a captive audience. Try it, make that suggestion to her. I would be interested in her response to a comparisson of unbiased facts. Now that would be a truly informative and educational assignment.

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