With the holidays now behind us and time well spent with family and friends, we look ahead to a new year and new opportunities for success and a renewed commitment to the people of Los Angeles. As I reflect on my first year as Chief and when I was sworn in, I said my top goal was to extend the reforms begun by Chief William J. Bratton and to transition them into the rank and file of the department. I concentrated on continuing Chief Bratton’s reforms, reminding officers that we are not only a law enforcement institution, but we are an institution that brings society together, through constitutional policing. Constitutional policing remains my top priority for 2011, and is the foundation of each of the goals for this Department, including continued crime reduction, preventing terrorist incidents, maintaining the personnel strength of the Department, and employee wellness. Integrity, courtesy, accountability and professionalism in everything we do and say coincide with these goals and will go a long way toward helping us achieve a standard of excellence which is second to none.
I am committed to ensuring that every member of this Department fully understands and shares my commitment to Constitutional Policing. Constitutional policing means several things, but simply put: we must never break the law to enforce the law. Our loyalty is to the people of Los Angeles, not each other and not the Department. It’s about efficiency. We fight crime together, through effective policing, which involves partnerships. It involves getting the resources, and through talented and hard working individuals solving the problem together. YOU are the talented and hard working individuals of this Department that can truly make a difference.
Perceptions matter. It is not enough that you follow the law, you must also confidently explain the reasons you took police action to the people with whom you interact, when it is safe to do so. Treating the people you contact with courtesy and respect, explaining why you are inconveniencing them if that’s the case, and dealing with them as you would want to be treated if the tables were turned is not just a good idea, it is what LAPD expects you to do. The act of an unsolicited explanation has tremendous value for everyone involved and goes a long way.
Last year, we had more than 3 million contacts with the Los Angeles community, whether it was through arrests, citations or impounds, resulting in approximately 16 -18 bias policing complaints each month. That number is relatively low and demonstrates that members of our organization embrace these important constitutional policing values. As an officer, who has spent a lot of time patrolling the City’s streets, I know this to be true. I see it when I am working patrol all over the City and hear about the good work you are doing every single day. When I hear about great police work, I enjoy writing a personal desk note to each of the individuals involved. I don’t want to miss the opportunity to thank you for the selfless and model police work I hear about.
Most recently, in my travels through OVB, I heard about North Hollywood’s first “Operation Where Are They Now? Task Force”, which targeted specific, prolific, property crime offenders. For months, the personnel assigned to North Hollywood Area’s Property Crimes Unit geared up to make this one of the most aggressive task forces assembled to combat property crime. Through the hard work of everyone involved, the extraordinary vision of this type of task force became an instant reality during the two day operation. It was an overwhelming success and 42 arrests were made. The planning, organization, and implementation of the strategies clearly made this a productive task force. I wrote personal notes of thanks and praise to each member of this unit, clearly committed to constitutional policing through efficiency.
Together We Can…
As your Chief, I have to make decisions that not everyone will agree with, but know that I make them because the decision was necessary at the time for the individuals involved, the community and the Department. With every decision I make, there is no personal gain or agenda behind it. As a street cop for many years in this LAPD family, I make decisions as Chief with the heart of a patrol officer because I’ve been there and I understand where you are coming from. This is the last job I intend to ever have, and what this job allows me to do is ensure that the LAPD does not falter, and I willingly take on that responsibility. We made great strides over the past three and a half decades I’ve been with this Department and we can’t go backwards.
The opening and staffing of the new Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) in downtown is one of those tough decisions I had to make. Even if we didn’t have to open and staff a new jail, at the current rate of attrition and with a civilian hiring freeze and furloughs, sworn officers would have been needed by April of 2011 to augment detention officers. I want to thank those of you who have volunteered to be reassigned to Jail Division. While all vacancies were not filled voluntarily, know that these assignments are only on a temporary basis. Once the City’s financial situation improves, and it will improve, we will put you back where you are most effective, in the field.
Lastly, I want you to know I am continuing to work to gain more promotions through the rank and file for both the sworn and civilian rank and file. Be sure to check the updated matrix on the home page of the Department’s LANs, outlining all the open positions within the Department by rank and the number of positions submitted to the Managed Hiring Committee, for upgrades and promotions consideration. It is my intent to always openly communicate with you and reiterate the process behind promotions and movement within the organization. I appreciate the email responses I received last month and value your insight on ways we can work together.
With a heavy heart I am deeply saddened by the sudden death of Gilbert Diaz, son of retired Deputy Chief Sergio Diaz, the death of Sandra Bonneau, wife of retired Captain Richard Bonneau, and the death of my personal friend Emergency Operation Divisions Officer Kent Carter. As we cope with the loss of three LAPD family members, we continue to support Captain Bill Eaton and pray that he continues his fight against cancer. I ask that you keep them in your prayers.