A union representing Compton police officers has sued the city over a new ordinance that gives the office of City Atty. Wesley Fenderson Jr. broad power to investigate crimes through the use of police records and equipment. The suit, filed last week by the Compton Police Officers' Assn., asks a Superior Court judge to throw out the ordinance or force the city to discuss its application with union leaders. A hearing on the complaint is set for Jan. 6.
Union lawyer Michael Hannon said the ordinance, passed in October with City Councilwoman Jane D. Robbins abstaining, "dilutes police officers' status." Hannon said that "all kinds of extraordinary powers and benefits that accrue to proper peace officers"--such as workers' compensation benefits--could be weakened "if you spread this around to museum guards and city attorneys and everyone under the sun."
Fenderson said the ordinance is legal and meant to make it easier for his office to conduct inquiries without requiring the assistance of police officials. Now instead of calling on police to serve a civil warrant, for example, it can be done faster by Fenderson's assistants. "Why call another department to do what we can do ourselves?" Fenderson said. Compton is apparently the first city to pass such an ordinance.