By Eric Heinz, City News Service
LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Following days of protests against police brutality, the president of the Los Angeles Police Commission president said today the board will take steps to review and revise police policies, with input from the community.
“(It) would be easy to say we’ve made great progress, that there’s more accountability, more transparency,” Board President Eileen Decker said. “And while all of that is very, very true, we all have to say ‘It’s not enough.’ It’s not nearly enough, and we all, no matter who we are, we must reflect inward and answer the fundamental question: what can I do? Everyone has to take responsibility here because everyone can do more, including me and including this committee.”
Decker outlined immediate steps the Los Angeles Police Department and the commission must take, including updating police policies and making proposed changes available for public review by July before returning to the commission for action.
The policies, Decker said, should be adopted no later than the end of the year.
The board president also said the LAPD inspector general will review police training policies and evaluate “the effectiveness of them.” The inspector general will also review “non-categorical” uses of force, such as restraining someone, and review incident “de-escalation” procedures.
Decker said she wants commissioners, officers and police personnel to make an effort to engage with the community more often. She also called for a report on protesters who have been injured during the demonstrations prompted by the death of George Floyd, who died following his arrest by Minneapolis police officers, one of whom pinned him to the ground by placing a knee on his neck and kept it there, despite his repeated plea, “I can’t breathe.”
Commissioner Shane Murphy Goldsmith echoed the sentiment that more review of police policies is needed.
“The LAPD now does department-wide, anti-bias training and reduced pretext stops and other suppression policing practices that target Black and brown boys and men,” Goldsmith said, mentioning other progress LAPD has made. “But the reforms clearly have not resulted in the change we need. It has not been enough.”
Commissioner Dale Bonner, citing the current LAPD policy, said a department employee’s obligation to report and prevent other officers’ misconduct begins the moment they are hired.
“I think the department and this commission should focus on seeing what we can do to strengthen the system of accountability and accelerate that cultural change,” Bonner said. “I think the department and all of us can do more to identify and address officers who, on account of their record, their behavior or their language… are showing propensity to use violence or excessive force.”
Chief Michel Moore told the commission there have been more than 2,700 arrests during the protests since local demonstrations began last Wednesday, notably by blocking a portion of the Hollywood (101) Freeway. Of those arrests, 2,500 have been detained for unlawful assembly or violating curfews. The rest of the arrests were related to looting and other acts of violence.
“We took steps that we have not taken in decades to increase our deployment, to increase… the number of personnel available and our resources to try to counter the impact of this violence in our neighborhoods,” Moore said. “Regrettably, we’re now in a time of civil unrest I prayed I would never see again.”
Moore said 66 LAPD vehicles have so far been damaged, with seven of them being set on fire, and 27 officers suffered injuries. Two officers who were injured during the protests, one who suffered a broken knee and [the] other a fractured skull, are at home and recovering.
The police chief again apologized for a statement he made Monday night, essentially saying looters had blood on their hands for Floyd’s death. Moore has repeatedly apologized, saying he misspoke.
“Looting is in no way comparable to his murder. My remarks were meant to convey my frustration with those who have committed violence and attempted to justify their actions,” Moore said. “I misspoke, and I did so terribly.”
The commission meeting — which was held via videoconference due to the coronavirus pandemic — was flooded with people who wanted to give public comment or to listen. More than 500 people tried to view the meeting via Zoom, which pushed the software to its capacity and the commission had to improvise on the fly to let people access it.
Some people said police officers had been unnecessarily violent during peaceful protests, despite images and footage of police officers standing in solidarity with them in some circumstances.
The Black Lives Matter chapter in Los Angeles on Twitter called for the removal of Moore as chief while the board meeting took place.
“The city and police continue to place the labor of accountability onto community activists all while undermining, criminalizing, and brutalizing protesters,” @BLMLA stated. “The outrage over #GeorgeFloyd’s murder resonated in Los Angeles because of the LAPD. And yet they continue to employ and reward killer cops.”