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Filing Grievances Against Police to Be Simplified : Community relations: The city agreed to open multiple locations for citizens to make complaints against officers. The NAACP also asked that case reviews be subject to deadlines.

April 29, 1993|ROXANA KOPETMAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

LONG BEACH — Filing complaints against Long Beach police officers may become easier after city officials agreed this week to increase the number of locations where complaints will be taken.

At the request of the local branch of the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People, City Manager James C. Hankla said he would post a staff member at local community centers one day a week to take complaints from the public.

Last month, the NAACP complained that the location of the Citizen Police Complaint Commission on the 13th floor of City Hall is intimidating for people who want to file a claim of misconduct against police.

During a City Council meeting Tuesday, the group also made several other recommendations, including a suggestion that the commission set a deadline for complaints to be resolved.

"Six months, sometimes a year later, people don't hear (from the commission) about their complaints," Marie Treadwell, president of the local chapter of the NAACP, said Wednesday.

In its recommendations, the association did not specify how long the commission should take to investigate a claim or what the complainant should be told once the case is settled. Some black leaders complain that the commission not only takes too long to decide a case but then does not inform the complainant what punishment, if any, is meted out to the officer.

Commissioner Barbara Shoag, who was instrumental in creating the civilian review board, told the council she would like her group to become more independent in its investigations. A vast majority of the complaints the commission decides are based on investigations done by the Police Department.

Shoag said she would like the city to consider taking some of the funding allotted to the department's Internal Affairs division and transfer it to the Citizen Police Complaint Commission. Hankla, however, said that would have be to brought up during city budget negotiations.

Councilman Alan S. Lowenthal said Wednesday that he supports Shoag's idea and would like to see the commission's investigations become more independent of the Police Department.

Times community correspondent Suzan Schill contributed to this report.

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