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Decision on sending L.A. officers to Arizona event delayed

Some council members want four cops to attend a Border Patrol conference in Tucson. Others don't want to break the partial boycott of the state.

June 16, 2010|By David Zahniser, Los Angeles Times

The Los Angeles City Council postponed a decision Tuesday on whether to send four police officers to a conference in Tucson — which would create the first exception to its ban on travel to Arizona — to give officials time to find someone else to pay for the trip.

Councilmen Greig Smith and Bernard C. Parks had asked for the first exemption to the city's Arizona boycott, which was passed as a protest of that state's policy on illegal immigration. Doing so would allow the LAPD officers to attend the five-day Airborne Law Enforcement Assn. Conference, which will be hosted by the U.S. Border Patrol.

But Smith asked for the delay after some of his colleagues, including Councilwoman Janice Hahn, voiced opposition to the exemption. A delay would give the LAPD time to see if the nonprofit Los Angeles Police Foundation would be willing to foot the bill, he said.

"Janice Hahn was going to make a big stink," said Smith, who represents part of the west San Fernando Valley. "I was willing to fight it out, but then the department said it was going to try to work this out."

Smith was the lone opponent of the partial boycott, which was enacted last month as a response to passage of Arizona's Senate Bill 1070. The law makes it a state crime to lack immigration papers and requires police to determine the status of people they lawfully stop and subsequently suspect are in the country illegally. In response, the council imposed a boycott that bars travel to Arizona and the award of new contracts to Arizona companies, unless doing so would harm the city's interests.

Hahn, one of the original proponents of the boycott, said sending the LAPD officers to Tucson, even at another group's expense, flies in the face of the council's stance.

"It's not taxpayer money, but it's somebody's," said Hahn, whose district stretches from Watts to San Pedro. "And I think it undermines the spirit of what the council did."

After reviewing Smith's request, Councilman Richard Alarcon said he agreed with the plan to send the officers. And Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa dropped hints that he was unlikely to oppose the exemption.

"What I've said to Councilman Smith is, that issue, the issue of police officers going to Arizona, was decided a long time ago," the mayor said.

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