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Scrutiny of police hearings

January 16, 2007

Re "Secrecy again a major issue for the LAPD," Jan. 15

It may be convenient and often appropriate to blame the Los Angeles Police Department for keeping information hidden. This time, however, the blame belongs somewhere else. The LAPD was following the advice of the city attorney, who opined that boards of rights hearings are confidential and that disclosure of those proceedings is prohibited. The real story is the power of police unions in Sacramento to defeat police accountability with sweeping protections for officers that go well beyond those required to ensure the safety of officers and their families from retaliation by the bad guys.

DAVID D. DOTSON

San Juan Capistrano

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Re "Officer cleared in shooting releases transcripts," Jan. 13

I am uncomfortable with certain aspects of the commentary regarding L.A. Police Officer Steven Garcia's board of rights closed hearing. Public access and transparency may be laudable, but it is naive to think that the lynching mentality that so often follows high-profile police actions wouldn't have some unbalancing effect on an open board's deliberations.

Our officers often have to make split-second decisions, some life-or-death. For the administration of justice for the officer, I do believe that some aspect of the hearing and disciplinary review process must be independent and closed to the public. It is the least we can do to be fair and just to those we entrust with law enforcement. I'm sure we can find a balance.

RICK DINON

Crestline

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