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Chief to explain police actions at rally

Bratton's report this week on the May Day melee won't name names but will be a frank assessment of what went wrong.

May 27, 2007|Patrick McGreevy and Richard Winton | Times Staff Writers

As a result, investigators have been able to identify only a handful of officers in videotapes. The chief has taken steps to improve identification, including placement of numbers on riot-squad helmets, and he said last week he is considering putting identifying marks on body armor, which often covers the name and badge number of an officer.

Bratton has also ordered new training for officers in the elite Metropolitan Division, including its B Platoon, which provided crowd control in MacArthur Park.

"In the early stages of assessment, we have identified training and tactical issues that had to be addressed, and our goal is to quickly modify, enhance and develop new training," Bratton said in a videotaped message to his officers last week.

Still, some current and former Metropolitan Division officers are concerned that the chief's presentation Tuesday will give short shrift to more serious problems.

Traditionally, the division's officers have been highly trained for crises, including crowd control, but that training has been cut at least in half for many officers as the department seeks to have them spend more time on the streets.

In addition, a decision was made to bring in supervisors from outside Metropolitan Division.

Many of the B Platoon officers in MacArthur Park that day have been with the unit for less than a year and without the weeks-long Metro Academy training that officers went through when they joined the unit.

The officers were led into the park by a lieutenant who had been transferred to Metropolitan Division on Feb. 4.

"You cannot slap a patch on the shoulder of a person and suddenly they are a Metro guy," said one command staff officer. "Many of these guys never went to the Metro school.... You have a guy in charge who spent months on the desk, and it was his first big crowd incident."

In the days after the incident, Bratton said Metro's problems were a concern.

"I have put a lot of effort into crime suppression using Metro assets. Crime reduction has been the priority. Have we been shortchanging them in training?" Bratton asked.

"The reason May 1 happened is because the training and experience were not there," said former Officer Bob Gallegos, who retired April 28 after 26 years in Metro.

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