Interim Los Angeles Police Chief Bayan Lewis said Wednesday that he will issue a comprehensive policy next week aimed at protecting department employees who lodge complaints against fellow workers.
Although the so-called retaliation policy covers all LAPD employees, it is largely meant to protect female officers who complain about sexual harassment and discrimination, department officials said. Women who initiate such complaints are often targets of death threats, false complaints and warnings from colleagues that they will be left stranded without backup in emergencies, according to testimony at meetings before the City Council's Personnel Committee.
A draft of the policy, which has been actively supported by City Councilwoman Jackie Goldberg, Police Commissioner Edith Perez and other officials, was approved Wednesday by the Personnel Committee and is expected to receive final approval from the Police Commission next week.
Lewis said the problem of retaliation is severe enough to warrant the drafting of a new policy that has "some teeth to it."
The policy describes what retaliation is, who is responsible for preventing it, and how it will be punished.
"Now there is accountability," said Perez, who spent many hours with department officials and consultants drafting the policy.
Penny Harrington, director of the Center for Women in Policing, who is often a critic of the department's handling of gender discrimination and sexual harassment issues, praised the initiative, which she has been advocating for months.
"This is an excellent policy," she said. "There is nothing like this in policing anywhere else and [the department] deserves kudos for that."
Not that the process has been easy, department observers said. The policy had undergone numerous drafts before city officials and women's advocates were satisfied.
Under the policy, commanding officers and supervisors would have the responsibility of ensuring that subordinates are trained on what constitutes retaliation; taking immediate action to stop it; creating an environment that encourages employees to report retaliation; and quickly and thoroughly investigating retaliation.