$$ for Relatives Caring for Kids in the DCFS System, LASD Tightening Use-of-Force Policies & Putting Body Scanners in Jails….LAPD Commission Responds to Vehicle Camera Tampering….and WolvesApril 17th, 2014 by Taylor Walker
EDITORIAL: GIVE FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE TO RELATIVES CARING FOR CHILDREN IN THE CHILD WELFARE SYSTEM
California lawmakers are considering a bill that would funnel some CalWORKS money directly to relatives caring for children removed from their homes.
An LA Times editorial says this bill is a step in the right direction, but that more funding support should be given to grandparents and relatives caring for children in the DCFS system.
Here’s a clip, but go read the rest:
A little funding to allow a child to stay with relatives — $8,000 or so a year — is a drop in the bucket compared with the more than $100,000 a year it costs the public to maintain a child in a group home. And because children raised by family members have higher rates of graduation and lower rates of homelessness, drug abuse and arrest as adults, it’s smart policy to give grandparents and others living in retirement and on Social Security enough information and money on the front end to buy their young charges clothes and food and to pay for gas or bus fare to get to doctors and parent nights at school.
The Blue Ribbon Commission on Child Protection wisely argued in its draft final report that funding and services for a child removed from his or her parents should be determined by the child’s needs, not by the status of the placement family. State lawmakers are considering a bill — AB 1882 — that would go part of the way toward helping to direct funding to relative caregivers, and it’s a good start. But so much more could be accomplished in Los Angeles County if the Board of Supervisors would make child welfare a priority across all county departments and not just at the Department of Children and Family Services.
LASD REVAMPING USE-OF-FORCE POLICIES, AND REPLACING JAIL PAT-DOWNS WITH BODY SCANNERS
LA County Sheriff’s Department officials are attempting to really solve the problem of excessive force by revising the department’s use-of-force policies. Deputies will be held accountable not only for their actions during a force incident, but also for any negligent actions that trigger the physical conflict.
The department will also launch a pilot program to replace pat downs and invasive cavity searches in county jails with body scanners, in an effort to relieve tension between inmates and deputies. To start, two scanners will be placed at the Inmate Reception Center downtown.
The LA Daily News’ Thomas Himes has the story. Here are some clips:
Under the new policy, investigators will consider how officers acted prior to an incident when determining whether they acted properly. Previously, they were just supposed to focus on the moment when force was used.
“It’s so dramatic, it’s like an about-face from how this county has been doing it,” Supervisor Gloria Molina said.
Under the ruling, force could be deemed unreasonable if the deputy acted negligently leading up to an force incident, attorney Richard Drooyan told supervisors.
Drooyan, who’s been tasked with monitoring the sheriff’s implementation of recommendations made by the Citizen’s Commission on Jail Violence, said current department policies focus on the moment when force is used.
The ruling may also increase the county’s potential liability from previous cases that are already headed toward litigation, prompting Molina to ask for a team of attorneys to review those cases again.
…A major step forward in reducing jailhouse tensions will start testing Monday when the department puts a pair of body scanners to use at its Inmate Reception Center…
Once in place, [Assistant Sheriff Terri] McDonald said, the scanners will allow inmates to avoid physical searches, while more effectively keeping drugs and other contraband out of jails.
“It allows them in a more dignified way to be subjected to a search,” McDonald said.
LAPD COMMISSION NOT PLEASED WITH LACK OF ACCOUNTABILITY REGARDING IN-CAR CAMERA TAMPERING
Last week, we pointed to a story about LAPD officers’ unauthorized dismantling of 80 in-car video cameras, and the subsequent failure of LAPD officials to investigate. (While it is no excuse, a story on the LAPD union’s blog provides some extra context.)
On Tuesday, LAPD officials, including Chief Charlie Beck, had to answer to the department’s civilian oversight commission regarding the lack of accountability and department transparency displayed in handling the issue.
KPCC’s Erika Aguilar has the story. Here’s a clip:
Commissioner Kathleen Kim was especially troubled by the lack of accountability.
“The inability to investigate is probably as troubling as the incident itself,” Kim said. “Because the ability to investigate serves as a deterrent for these kinds of things happening in the future.”
An investigation into the missing antennas didn’t lead to any disciplinary action against individual officers or supervisors. LAPD commanders told the police commission Tuesday it would be difficult to single out misconduct among the 1,500 officers at the South Bureau. That’s because officers on different shifts share patrol cars and they are often transferred in and out of the bureau.
“For me personally I didn’t see the potential for an outcome of holding anybody accountable,” said deputy chief Robert Green, in charge of LAPD’s South Bureau.
Green said he put all his officers on notice: “to make sure that they understood the importance of digital in-car video, the importance of the perception of missing antennas and the fact that if an antenna or a part of the system was tampered with, it was considered very, very serious misconduct.”
With president Steve Soboroff absent Tuesday, police commissioners Paula Madison, Robert Saltzman and Kim took turns questioning three high-ranking LAPD officials, including Chief Beck. They asked why individuals were not held accountable for the tampering and why the department didn’t notify the police commission sooner of the problem.
Deputy Chief Stephen Jacobs took responsibility for not notifying the L.A. Police Commission’s inspector general of the problem, calling it as an oversight and not an intentional act.
“The simple answer is this: If the commission believes that it was not notified correctly, then the commission is right,” Beck said.
CALIFORNIA WOLF NEWS
On Wednesday, the California Fish and Game Commission considered placing the gray wolf on the endangered list, in anticipation of a future generation of the wolves in the state. (Back in the early 1900′s California wolves were killed off by hunters. When the Oregon gray wolf, OR-7, crossed the border in 2011, he was the first wild wolf in California since 1924.)
The commission opted to delay the decision for another 90 days in order to hear more public comment on the issue.
The AP’s Scott Smith has the story. Here’s how it opens:
While much of the country has relaxed rules on killing gray wolves, California will consider protecting the species after a lone wolf from Oregon raised hopes the animals would repopulate their historic habitat in the Golden State.
The California Fish and Game Commission on Wednesday postponed for three months a decision on whether to list the gray wolf as endangered. Commissioners heard impassioned arguments from environmentalists who want the wolves to again to roam the state and from cattle ranchers who fear for their herds.
“I think we made them blink,” said Amaroq Weiss of the Center for Biological Diversity, which leads the push for protection. “I think they heard our arguments.”
State wildlife officials say they don’t support the listing because wolf packs haven’t roamed in California for nearly a century and there’s no scientific basis to consider them endangered.
Recent interest in protecting the species started in 2011, when one wolf from Oregon — called OR-7 — was tracked crossing into California. The endangered listing has been under review for the last year.
Wildlife officials oppose the listing because wolves have been absent from California, so researchers have no way of measuring threats or the viability of the animal in the state, said Eric Loft, chief of wildlife programs for the Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Yet, the animal is iconic of the western landscape and California could easily become the home to functioning wolf packs within a decade, said Chuck Bonham, director of the wildlife agency.
The hearing was in Ventura. Hopefully the next will be in reasonable driving distance of certain wolf-loving Los Angeles residents.