ACLU of Southern California Reacts to Report by Police Commission's Independent Review Panel

November 16, 2000 12:00 am

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Statement of Ramona Ripston, Executive Director of ACLU of Southern California


LOS ANGELES – We are pleased that several of the recommendations made by the Police Commission’s Independent Review Panel closely tracks the calls for reform made over the years by the American Civil Liberties Union.

However, we are disappointed by some of the details — or lack of details — in the report.

Although we agree with many of the findings that show serious problems in regards to how the police department and commission functions, we recognize that there is a disjunction between the panel’s findings and the panel’s mostly tepid recommendations for change.

We are disappointed that the panel has failed to recommend the creation of a civilian complaint review body, is still opposed greater independence of the Inspector General’s office, has rejected the proposal that all five members of the Police Commission be full-time appointees, and continues to support the failed method of mayoral appointment of all commission members.

Too often, the report exhorts the mayor and commission members to work more closely together, without providing institutional changes to ensure this happens. Nor does the report fully address the systemic problems in the criminal justice system, including the district attorney’s office, the city attorney’s office, and a court system that appears in many cases to have lost its devotion to impartiality and justice.

Thee changes called for by the ACLU that the panel chose to recommend include:

    · Strengthening civilian oversight
    · Changing the culture of the LAPD
    · Establishing meaningful community policing
    · Allowing whistleblowers to report misconduct to the Inspector General’s office under assurance of anonymity
    · Revamping the way in which officer involved shootings and use of force are investigated

Mere tinkering won’t fix the Los Angeles Police Department’s problems. We urge city leaders to act quickly to ensure that adequate measures are adopted to strengthen civilian oversight of the LAPD, inject accountability into the department, and implement community policing – all of which are necessary to restore essential public confidence in the police.

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