March 2011 COP Message

At the beginning of the year, I sat down for well over an hour with officers in the roll call room at Hollywood station.  The experience brought back some great memories from my days in roll call. More importantly, I was very pleased with the candor of everyone present.  It was a great opportunity for open dialogue, to dispel rumors and to provide insight as to how and why recent changes in systems of this organization are made, while sharing a cup of coffee with you.  For those who couldn’t be there, we talked about everything from Financial Disclosure forms, to promotions to training and many other important concerns.

To date, a substantial number of officers have signed a Financial Disclosure.  Whether or not to sign is a personal decision and one that I know is not made lightly.  I want to thank those officers who have signed Financial Disclosures for your commitment to staff these important positions.  I also want to thank those that have chosen not to sign for the outstanding job you did while assigned to these positions in reducing crime.  I am confident all of you will continue to work together in the future to make Los Angeles the safest city in America.

Much of our discussion involved budget problems.  As you all know, the current budget situation makes it tough for me to implement some great ideas you’ve suggested to make your work much more efficient.  For example, one officer asked about telephonic reports and electronic DFARs and reports, both of which clearly make sense.  Sadly, with civilian staffing levels severely impacted by furloughs and the lack of funding and technology to integrate with our current systems, going paperless is just too difficult to implement under current conditions.  But, I’m not giving up on this great idea.  This is a long term project that I will support, as it is a means getting you back out onto the streets a lot faster.  But we cannot do this without our civilian workforce fully staffed.  I’m looking forward to the day we can refill those critical civilian positions which all of us understand are vital to our ability to properly serve the city.


A few other issues we discussed at the Hollywood Area roll call: 

  •   While I am still looking for ways to streamline the booking process to get officers released faster, (especially when arrestees need medical treatment), forced furloughs of our detention officers limit any ideas that would include additional jail staffing.
  • We are researching the impact of the educational requirement for promotional exams.  I will continue to support programs that assist you in earning college credits.
  • As a few of you have suggested ways the Department can generate revenue by charging violators for “Fix it” tickets, my staff is currently looking into this and researching the pros and cons of taking this on.
  • We are looking into expanding the list of approved firearms for both off duty and back up carry (.380 pistols: the Ruger LCP and the S&W Bodyguard) in addition to testing new primary duty weapons (Springfield Model XDM .40 caliber, S&W Model M&P .40 caliber, or the Glock Gen 4 Model 22 .40 Caliber). 
  • The question about future training for FTO, Vice and Narco schools was posed.  As of this writing, a modified training schedule for these schools will continue as calendared for 2011.  Please check the Training Notices section on the LANs for upcoming schools and training or contact the Training Coordination and Detective Training Units.

 I appreciate very much the suggestions and ideas I got at Hollywood and the many others I receive from officers as I read my email (and I read every one), visit with officers on the street and work the occasional patrol shift. Your ideas do not fall on deaf ears by any means. However, in the best of times I could not implement overnight every good idea I hear.  In today’s budgetary climate, it’s even tougher to move forward.  But I’m not discouraged. And I hope you aren’t either.  Please keep those ideas coming and know we will move on them as quickly as we can.

 Good Bye, Bill

By the time you read this message, I will have visited Van Nuys’ station as my second stop for my monthly coffee chat with you in roll call.  I would be remiss if I did not express my heartfelt empathy for Captain Bill Eaton’s family and friends.  Last month I asked you to keep Bill in your prayers as he was battling cancer.  Despite giving it his all, Bill lost the fight and passed away on January 13, 2011.  Please keep his family and loved ones in your prayers as they, like all of us, are mourning his loss.  Many of us men and women in blue were fortunate to have called him a friend and became part of his extended family.  Bill was a great man and truly deserving of the special tribute to his life recently aired on an episode of the television show “Southland”.  May his memory live on through the selfless work you do every day.


End of Year Crime Stats

Major crime in Los Angeles has fallen to levels we haven't seen in more than four decades, when our population was 30% smaller.  For the first time since the late 1960s, LA ended the year with fewer than 300 murders, an enormous drop from the early 1990s when more than 1,000 Angelinos were killed every year.  Other violent crimes and major property crimes were also significantly down.  Most importantly, there were 8,046 fewer victims of crime. 


That’s real progress, and it's due in very large part to the hard work of and smart policing by the men and women of LAPD.


Coming in the face of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, the fact that LA now has one of the lowest homicide rates among major U.S. cities is truly impressive.  But we can’t rest on our laurels or ever forget the terrible toll crime continues to inflict on the victims of homicides and other major crimes.  For them and for all the people of Los Angeles, there is still much more progress to be made.  We will not be satisfied until everyone no matter who they are or where they live is safe and secure.


Conventional wisdom holds crime increases during tough economic times as some people turn to crime as a last resort.  Your hard work and dedication to community policing have helped prevent this from becoming our reality.  While we could not have reduced Part 1 crime without the help of our partners in the community, you have been the driving force behind our success.  Without you there would be no major decline in crime, something you should be very proud of.

Public Safety is the cornerstone of a civilized society.  If LA isn’t safe, it can’t nurture and grow its economic base.  Mayor Villaraigosa and I are taking this critical message to our communities and city leaders to retain their support for funding the department adequately so we can maintain the sworn and civilian strength of the LAPD. 


Celebrating 125 Years of African-Americans in the LAPD

This month we celebrate 125 years of African-Americans in the LAPD.  From the first African-American police officer in 1886, Robert W. Stewart, to the first African-American LAPD officer killed in the Line of Duty in 1923, Charles P. Williams; the blood, sweat and tears of African-Americans are deeply embedded in the fabric of our organization.  In 1992 Willie L. Williams became the first African-American Chief of Police.  Los Angeles City Councilmember Bernard C. Parks followed as the second African-American Chief of Police in 1997.  Today African-Americans are found throughout the Department’s ranks.  From Assistant Chief Earl Paysinger to the newest recruits, African-Americans are critically important members of the LAPD family.


February is African-American History Month and what better time to recognize and celebrate the history, contributions and accomplishments of African-American LAPD officers.  These officers will be prominently featured and honored on our Department website: throughout the month. 


Southeast Area Officer Involved Shooting

On Sunday night, January 2, 2011, Southeast Area patrol officers responded to a home invasion robbery call that involved two armed suspects inside the location with victims, some of whom were actively being pistol whipped, gagged and bound.  The first responding sergeant at the scene directed a quick investigation then formed a tactical plan to conduct a rescue.  An officer involved shooting occurred when one Southeast officer was met by a suspect armed with a fully loaded Tec-9, who was running out the side door.  The suspect was later pronounced dead at a local hospital.  The entry team rescued the victims inside the location.  They had in fact been pistol whipped, gagged and bound.  The officers also arrested the second suspect and recovered a secondary weapon. 

Situations like this serve as a reminder of the danger and split second decisions officers must face on a daily basis.  I’m thankful that this incident did not result in death or serious injury to the officers or the victims.  I am so proud to be Chief, of the brave men and women of this great Department. 


Together We Can…

In an effort to make myself available to you in a less formal capacity, I’d like to have a cup of coffee with you at your police station.  Beginning in January I am scheduled to visit Area roll call rooms, as often as possible, throughout the year.  I will share time with the rank and file, and civilian workforce and openly discuss whatever timely issues are on your minds over a cup of coffee.   


As all of you are aware, the budget problems facing the City have not gone away.  I am working closely with the Mayor and the City Administrative Officer on our department budget.  We are doing everything possible to protect the employees of this department.  I remain adamant that we cannot suffer any additional losses such as furloughs or position eliminations.   I will continue to work with staff to do everything within my power to prevent this from happening.  I believe each and every one of you, sworn and civilian alike, are essential to the success of public safety.

January 2011 Chief’s Message

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.