Tuesday, June 26, 2001
Plan to Make Police Commission Full-Time Slows in Committee Session
By a MetNews Staff Writer
City leaders, some of whom are due to leave office in less than a week and some whose future as city officials are in doubt, failed to reach consensus yesterday on whether the Police Commission should become a paid, full-time body.
The plan, along with several variations, has been discussed for nearly a year as part of possible reforms to increase the stature of the LAPD’s civilian overseers.
Several members of the current five-member Police Commission and the five-member City Council Committee on Improvement to Police Policies and Practices asserted that there was agreement at least on paying the commission president and giving official full-time status for a job that is widely considered already a de facto full-time post.
But the Police Commission’s longest serving and newest members cautioned against the move, saying it would serve only to place cloud over the commission’s independence.
Fourteen-year commission veteran Bert Boeckmann, who is termed out as a commission member this year, said the commission should make better use of the full-time staff it already has, including an executive director and an inspector general.
Rebecca Avila, former executive director of the city Ethics Commission and the police panel’s most recent addition, agreed. She noted that the full staffing for the inspector general was a relatively recent development, and that it and other recent and impending changes at the commission should be given time to work.
The value of bringing in five people from outside the department is that they can “look at things with a fresh eye,” Avila said. If one or more of the members become city employees, she said, they could lose their independence.
“They could become wedded to the department’s way of doing tings,” Avila said.
The commission previously considered the full-time plan, which has been endorsed in various formats by the Rampart Independent Review Panel, USC Law Professor Erwin Chemerinsky in a report for the Police Protective League, Mayor-elect James Hahn, and others.
But the panel opted not to forward a recommendation to the council.
Ad Hoc Committee Chair Cindy Miscikowski said she wanted to be certain that any changes come without resort to a charter amendment, in order to leave the city flexible to later modify its decision.
Council staff was instructed to return to the committee with a list of who supports which plan and an explanation of the pros and cons of each move.
Copyright 2001, Metropolitan News Company