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L.A.'s state lawmakers in dispute over status of airport police

September 11, 2013|By Patrick McGreevy
  • State Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima), shown at right in a file photo, this week challenged a bill that would elevate the status and powers of the Los Angeles airport police.
State Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima), shown at right in a file photo, this… (Robert Durell / Los Angeles…)

A political dispute has erupted in Sacramento over legislation that would give the Los Angeles airport police the same elevated standing and powers as Los Angeles Police Department officers.

The measure by Assemblyman Steven Bradford (D-Los Angeles) was approved on a 29-7 vote of the state Senate Tuesday, but not before some prominent L.A.-area politicians voiced opposition.

The measure, which is supported by Mayor Eric Garcetti and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, would have the LAPD’s inspector general provide some oversight over the airport officers.

Those voting against the bill included Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima), a former president of the Los Angeles City Council, and Sen. Stephen Knight (R-Palmdale), a former LAPD officer.

Padilla cited the long history of abuse and corruption that led to the creation of an inspector general who reports to the Police Commission and is a watchdog over the LAPD force.

“I believe it’s important that we maintain an inspector general who remains focused on that mission,” Padilla said during the floor debate. “The bill before us tends to confuse that responsibility and results in the inspector general reporting to two commissions.”

He said the inspector general would also report to the airport commission.

The Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union representing LAPD officers, wrote to lawmakers that it opposes the measure, in part because it would allow airport officers to perform functions already handled by LAPD officers, “so these new costs become an expensive duplication.”

Sen. Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) said the bill has widespread support among law enforcement officials and he urged lawmakers not from Los Angeles to disregard the dissension.

“At the end of the day it’s an internal squabble locally,” De Leon assured his Northern California colleagues before the measure was approved and sent back to the Assembly for consideration of minor amendments.

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patrick.mcgreevy@latimes.com

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