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LAPD Use of Force Studied

December 13, 2005|Richard Winton | Times Staff Writer

The Los Angeles Police Commission today will consider a plan to make public its decisions on whether officers violate department use-of-force rules.

But the proposed postings would omit the officers' names, and that has some critics concerned.

Police Commission officials said Monday that the city attorney's office had advised against publishing the names of officers in the summary of each case, citing personnel rules.

Commission President John Mack said the idea of posting the use-of-force reports on the Web each week is designed to combat the perception in some communities that the Los Angeles Police Department is covering up the actions of officers.

"My fellow commissioners and myself decided we want to be as transparent as possible and share the results of the commission's actions," he said.

Some activists, however, questioned the value of such reports without officers' names.

"It is very disingenuous to withhold the officers' names when you say you're trying to be transparent. If the commission wants to be transparent I encourage them to provide the names and as much detail as possible," said Najee Ali, a community activist and head of Project Islamic Hope.

Until now, news organizations that wanted the names of officers involved in use-of-force cases could request the reports provided to the commission by Chief William J. Bratton. Those reports include officers' names.

Mack said Monday that the news media and the public could still request those reports even when the reports are posted on the Web.

The five-member Police Commission has traditionally sided with the chief's decision on major uses of force. Last month, however, the new panel selected by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa concluded that a detective with the Special Investigation Section acted improperly in a Sept. 9, 2004, shooting of an unarmed burglary suspect. But Bratton had found that the action was within LAPD rules.

The commission sided with independent Inspector General Andre Birotte's report on the shooting. His reports are not considered public by the commission and are not released.

Commission Executive Director Richard Tefank said the new commission reports would incorporate Birotte's views of incidents as well as the chief's positions. If the commission determines that a use of force is in violation of LAPD policy, discipline can then be administered by the department.

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