Wednesday, September 26, 2001
Police Commission Votes 4-1 to Approve Flexible Work Schedule for Officers
By KIMBERLY EDDS, Staff Writer
The Police Commission yesterday voted 4-1 to approve Mayor James Hahn’s flexible work schedule for the Los Angeles Police Department, touching off a whirlwind effort by Hahn and his supporters to meet the mayor’s target implementation deadline of Oct. 20.
Hahn said he wants to implement his hybrid plan, which mixes 10- and 12-hour shifts with traditional 8-hour shifts, in two police divisions at the next deployment period, which starts Oct. 21.
Under Hahn’s plan the first two division to begin using the flexible work schedule are Hollywood and Central, something even the officers in those divisions weren’t aware of until Hahn unveiled his plan last week.
Just hours after the commission approved the plan, the city’s Executive Employee Relations Committee met in closed session to negotiate a Memorandum of Understanding [MOU] with the Los Angeles Police Protective League.
“We want to roll out on this as soon as possible to show we’re committed,” Hahn told the commission.
The EERC is made up of Hahn, City Council President Alex Padilla, council President Pro Tem Mark Ridley-Thomas, council Budget and Finance Committee Chair Nick Pacheco and Personnel Committee Chair Dennis Zine.
Both Padilla and Zine have stated their support for any measure that would increase officer morale, including moving to a compressed work schedule.
Zine, a 33-year veteran of the LAPD and former LAPPL Board of Directors member, urged the commission to support the plan, saying it proved successful in the department’s pilot programs of 1992 and 1995.
“I support this because I know it works,” Zine said. “[My council colleagues] have never been in law enforcement.”
A spokesman for Padilla said the councilman has spoken to a number of rank and file officers and says there is a strong need for increased morale.
But several council members have expressed concerns that the plan is moving forward too quickly without enough information or public input.
“They are obviously moving in an expeditious fashion and the question is why,” Councilwoman Jan Perry said.
Perry also said she is concerned that outside of attending the police commission or city council meeting, the public is not being given an opportunity to speak on the plan.
The City Council has final approval of the MOU between the city and the union. The council will consider two motions today which could impact when the council takes up the MOU, including one sponsored by Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski that would direct city officials to evaluate Hahn’s plan and report back to the council before Monday. The motion requires a study of the operational and fiscal impact of the plan.
“What is important is that we have a plan with all the details filled in and we have the opportunity to analyze that plan,” Councilman Jack Weiss said. “This could potentially have an impact on public safety and we have an obligation to protect that.”
Miscikowski, Ridley-Thomas and Councilman Nate Holden testified at last week’s commission meeting, urging the panel to wait to vote on the plan until a council-ordered studied is completed on Nov. 10.
Holden, Ridley-Thomas, and Perry also sent a letter to Los Angeles Police Protective League President Mitzi Grasso asking the league to wait for the study.
The league endorsed Hahn during his recent mayoral campaign after he promised to implement a flexible work schedule for patrol officers within 90 days of taking office.
“This is a total victory for enhanced public safety in the city of Los Angeles,” LAPPL President Mitzi Grasso said.
Holden expressed dissatisfaction with the actions of the commission, saying the commissioners are not acting independently as they promised during their council confirmation hearing.
“If I knew they were going to rubber-stamp everything, I would have voted against their confirmation,” Holden said.
“The commission doesn’t exist,” he said. “It’s just a direct line between the police department and the [city] administration. The administration is telling the police department what to do.”
Hahn’s plan was approved by the commission with the condition that a working group of two commissioners, and a representative from both Parks’ and Hahn’s offices and one from the police union be set up to “fine-tune” deployment details and report back to the commission.
Commission Vice-President Rose Ochi will head the working group. The second commissioner to sit on the group was not yet named.
Veteran commissioner Bert Boeckmann, who voted against the plan, balked at the idea of voting without the entire commission hearing from the department on the issue.
“This is just not the way I’m used to doing business,” Boeckmann said.
Parks did not comment on the actual plan, but did say that the working group was the best way to deal with the issues surrounding implementation instead of dealing with them in the entire commission.
Parks had publicly opposed a compressed work schedule in the past and only recently said he will implement the plan if directed to do so by the commission.
A spokesman for the LAPD said the department will work with the city, the police union, and the community to find the best solution for all parties.
Sgt. John Pasquariello said the department will not change work schedules in the middle of a deployment period and if it is not feasible for implementation to take place by the next deployment period it will have to wait until the following period. Deployment periods begin every 28 days.
Copyright 2001, Metropolitan News Company