Helping Treatment Programs Access Funding, LAPD to Implement Discipline Recommendations, CA Attorney General Discusses Marijuana Legalization, and Montana Gets Gay MarriageNovember 20th, 2014 by Taylor Walker
LA SUPES MOVE TOWARD MAKING IT EASIER FOR TREATMENT AND REHABILITATION PROGRAMS TO GET FUNDING
The LA County Board of Supervisors approved a motion by Supes Don Knabe and Mark Ridley-Thomas to look at possibilities for expanding eligibility requirements for the competitive bid process for county funding, so that community treatment programs that do great work serving at-risk kids, but don’t fit into the county’s “square peg” system, can still win crucial funding.
For instance, Don Knabe said he would like to find a way to provide funding for Homeboy Industries, which cannot engage in the county’s competitive bid process because participants are not referred to Homeboy. Instead, gang members seek help at Homeboy of the own volition.
KPCC’s Erika Aguilar has the story. Here’s a clip:
About 1,500 juvenile delinquents are released from Los Angeles county youth camps each year and the county spends at least $11 million annually on rehabilitation programs, according to Knabe’s office.
Most of the money goes to traditional “fee for service” programs where a juvenile offender is referred to a specific rehabilitation program after release from camp. Knabe referred to those programs as “square pegs” that fit the county mold because it’s easy to track which services were provided.
He said other successful programs that help troubled youth turn their lives around are left out.
“These are not square peg issues,” he said. “They are issues that have to be met with head-on services,” he said. “And you have to look at all the different models that may be out there.”
LAPD CHIEF CHARLIE BECK TELLS COMMISSION HE WILL IMPLEMENT RECOMMENDATIONS FROM DISCIPLINE SURVEY
An internal LA Police Department report released late last week analyzed a survey of 500 sworn officers and employees regarding the LAPD’s disciplinary practices.
Those surveyed said they felt the department discriminated based on gender, ethnicity, and rank. However, when analyzed, respondents’ perceptions of bias were not generally representative of the discipline data gathered by the department. For instance, some survey-takers said they believed minorities were treated unfairly in the disciplinary process, while others said they believed minorities received better treatment from the disciplinary process because the department feared potential lawsuits. Yet the department figures show that, for the most part, referrals to the Board of Review and terminations of latino, white, black, and asian officers were proportionate to the department’s overall ethnic composition.
The report was presented to the LA Police Commission Tuesday. In response, Charlie Beck told the police commission the department would implement recommendations from the report. Among the recommendations to be put into effect are:
- Utilizing new penalty guidelines to ensure consistency and fairness
- Gathering and analyzing Board of Review and complaint data for potential bias
- Developing an anti-nepotism policy
Other reactions to the report were mixed at the commission meeting. LA Police Protective League president Tyler Izen said he felt department officials were unfairly blaming the survey results on officers’ inadequate understanding of discipline policies, and that the report was missing information.
LA police commission president Steve Soboroff said that the report did its job—putting numbers next to claims of gender, minority, or rank-related bias—and that it was not intended to analyze every type of disparate discipline claim (like favoritism by the chief).
The LA Times’ Richard Winton, Kate Mather, and Joel Rubin have more on the the issue. Here’s a clip:
The review looked for disparities in whether officers of certain ranks, gender, or race were ordered to the hearings and ultimately penalized, concluding that data showed there was little merit to the complaints of bias.
Left unexamined, however, was the vast majority of the LAPD’s misconduct cases, which are handled by officers’ commanders.
The president of the union that represents the department’s roughly 9,900 rank-and-file officers dismissed the report Monday as a disappointment.
Tyler Izen was critical of what he said were efforts by officials to blame officers’ concerns on their poor understanding of how the discipline system works.
“They are saying the employees don’t get it…I think [officers] are afraid they are going to be fired,” he said. “I would like to see all the raw data because this report doesn’t tell me much.”
Steve Soboroff, president of the Police Commission, acknowledged that some officers believe the discipline system favors those with connections. But he praised the report, saying that it did a good job of analyzing claims of bias based on gender, rank and ethnicity. He said it would have been impossible to quantify all the complaints of disparities in punishments.
“You’ve got a perception that if you’re a friend of the chief’s, then all of the sudden it’s better,” Soboroff said. “You can’t quantify that. How do you do the statistics on that? So that’s a perception issue for the chief to work on. Nobody else but the chief. And he knows that.”
Capt. Peter Whittingham, an outspoken critic of Beck who has sued the department over retaliation that he claims he suffered for refusing to fire an officer at a discipline hearing, said the report was “deeply disappointing.”
“I thought this was an opportunity for real transparency and for the department to show it really wants to address the core issues raised by officers,” he said.
Questions about discipline had dogged Beck before Dorner surfaced. The chief clashed repeatedly with members of the commission over what they saw as the chief’s tendency to give warnings to officers guilty of serious misconduct and the department’s track record for handing down disparate punishments for similar offenses.
CALIFORNIA ATTORNEY GENERAL KAMALA HARRIS TALKS MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION WITH BUZZFEED
California Attorney General Kamala Harris told Buzzfeed’s Adam Serwer that she has “no moral opposition” to marijuana legalization, and that it seems inevitable. Harris said a lot has to be figured out for California to make legalization a workable reality, and that she is glad that Oregon and Washington have been paving the way. Here’s a clip:
“I am not opposed to the legalization of marijuana. I’m the top cop, and so I have to look at it from a law enforcement perspective and a public safety perspective,” Harris told BuzzFeed News in an interview in Washington, D.C. “I think we are fortunate to have Colorado and Washington be in front of us on this and figuring out the details of what it looks like when it’s legalized.”
“We’re watching it happen right before our eyes in Colorado and Washington. I don’t think it’s gonna take too long to figure this out,” Harris said. “I think there’s a certain inevitability about it.”
“It would be easier for me to say, ‘Let’s legalize it, let’s move on,’ and everybody would be happy. I believe that would be irresponsible of me as the top cop,” Harris said. “The detail of these things matters. For example, what’s going on right now in Colorado is they’re figuring out you gotta have a very specific system for the edibles. Maureen Dowd famously did her piece on that… There are real issues for law enforcement, [such as] how you will measure someone being under the influence in terms of impairment to drive.
“We have seen in the history of this issue for California and other states; if we don’t figure out the details for how it’s going to be legalized the feds are gonna come in, and I don’t think that’s in anyone’s best interest,” Harris said.
MONTANA BECOMES 34TH STATE TO ALLOW GAY MARRIAGE
On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Brian Morris overturned Montana’s ban on gay marriage. Couples were immediately allowed to wed following the ruling. Congrats Montana (a state of which we at WLA are particularly fond)!
The Associated Press’ Lisa Baumann has the story. Here’s a clip:
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in September that Idaho and Nevada’s bans are unconstitutional. Montana is part of the 9th Circuit, and Morris cited the appeals court’s opinion in his ruling.
“The time has come for Montana to follow all the other states within the Ninth Circuit and recognize that laws that ban same-sex marriage violate the constitutional right of same-sex couples to equal protection of the laws,” he wrote.
Four same-sex couples filed a lawsuit in May challenging Montana’s ban. The plaintiffs included Angie and Tonya Rolando.
“Calling Tonya my partner, my significant other, my girlfriend, my perpetual fiancée has never done justice to our relationship,” Angie Rolando said. “Love won today.”