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Smart Voter
Los Angeles County, CA April 10, 2001 Election
Proposition 1
Police Officer Discipline
City of Los Angeles

Charter Amendment

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Information shown below: Summary | Fiscal Impact | Yes/No Meaning | Impartial Analysis | Arguments |

Shall Section 1070 of the Charter be amended to bring about the following , among other, changes or clarifications in the police officer disciplinary procedure: officers (not the City) will provide for their representation in administrative proceedings, subpoenas will be available during disciplinary investigations, the double jeopardy defense to disciplinary charges will be removed, and officers will pay for hearing transcripts except where the Department obtained the transcript?

THE ISSUE: Should the Charter be amended to change the police officer disciplinary process?

THE SITUATION: The Los Angeles City Charter provides for a police discipline system that protects both the rights of police officers and the public. The Los Angeles Police Department has proposed the following changes as a way of improving the existing system.

THE PROPOSAL: This proposed Charter amendment would make changes to disciplinary procedures within the Police Department and to the related powers and duties of the Police Commission and the Chief of Police.

This measure modifies existing Charter section 1070 entitled "Rights and Due Process Procedures" for the Police Department. The proposed amendment would include the following changes:

  • The City will no longer provide a defense representative free of charge. Currently, officers accused of misconduct have had the right to be represented in disciplinary hearings by another police officer at City expense;

  • Removes the double jeopardy defense available to an officer. Currently, an officer cannot be charged a second time for the same offense even if new evidence is discovered.

  • Simplifies the time within which an officer can be charged with misconduct. Currently, to charge an officer with misconduct the City must meet two time limitations standards: a one-year time limitation from discovery of the misconduct and, where applicable, a criminal limitations period. This proposal eliminates the use of the criminal limitations period. With regard to the one year from discovery limitation, this proposal allows for exceptions to extend the time period to deal with special circumstances, such as when an officer is under criminal investigation.

Fiscal Impact from William T. Fujioka, Director, Office of Administrative and Research Services:
The measure does not result in any additional cost to the City. In the future there could be a savings of up to $3 million annually resulting from deployment of police officers currently providing on-duty representation of other officers accused of misconduct to other police functions.

Meaning of Voting Yes/No
A YES vote of this measure means:
You want to amend the Charter to change the police officer disciplinary process.

A NO vote of this measure means:
You do not want to amend the Charter to change the police officer disciplinary process.

Impartial Analysis from Ronald F. Deaton, Chief Legislative Analyst
The City Charter specifies the basic rules and procedures for the management, administration, and on-going operations of the Los Angeles Police Department. This proposed Charter amendment would make changes to the Los Angeles Police Department's disciplinary procedures and to related powers and duties of the Police Commission and the Chief of Police applicable to police officers who have passed the civil service probationary period.

Voters of the City of Los Angeles approved Charter changes in 1934 (effective in 1935) that created virtually identical systems of discipline for police officers in the Police Department and firefighters in the Fire Department. In 1992, voters modified the Police Department's disciplinary system, changing the composition of a Board of Rights from three command offices to two command officers and one civilian, extending the period of time given to the Department to bring charges for misconduct, and allowing demotions in rank as a disciplinary penalty. In 1995, voters approved a Charter amendment that, among other things, gave the Chief of Police the authority to reinstate an officer who had been temporarily relieved from duty, authorized individual Police Commission members to subpoena a witness or evidence, and provided the Chief with two additional options (demotion, or suspension and demotion) for disciplining officers who fail to appear at a Board of Rights hearing with no reasonable excuse. When a new Charter was approved by voters in 1999, the fundamentals of the police officer disciplinary system were left intact.

Under the proposed Charter amendment:

  • A police officer accused of misconduct would retain the right to appear in person and be represented at the disciplinary hearing, but the Department will no longer provide a police officer to serve as the accused officer's defense representative.

  • The number of limitations periods applicable to police officer misconduct would be reduced, and certain time extensions and exceptions would be introduced. Currently, two limitations standards must be met for an officer to be charged with misconduct: charges must be filed within (a) one year after the misconduct was discovered and (b) a criminal offense limitations period, where the charge is based substantially or entirely on conduct which may be punishable criminally. This proposed amendment eliminates the second of these time limitations, thereby leaving only one limitations period one year from discovery. This amendment would, however, allow for extension of or exceptions to the one-year period in certain circumstances in a manner similar to that provided by state law for many other police officers in the State of California. The extensions include delaying the one-year limitations standard if the alleged misconduct is also the subject of a criminal investigation or criminal prosecution, or if the alleged misconduct involves a matter in civil litigation where the member is named as a party defendant.

  • Currently, a double jeopardy defense is available to an officer charged with misconduct, even if new evidence has been discovered. This amendment would discontinue the availability of that defense.

  • The Police Commission could issue subpoenas to compel the attendance of witnesses and the production of evidence during a disciplinary investigation and prior to a Board of Rights hearing or other administrative proceedings.

  • Officers would retain their right to have a copy of a transcript of a Board of Rights hearing free of charge whenever the Department has obtained the transcript. In all other cases, the officer would have to pay for the transcript.

  • The Chief of Police would have the authority to reduce a penalty following final disciplinary action where there is good cause shown for such action.l In such a case, the Chief must notify the Police Commission.

Suggest a link related to Proposition 1
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Arguments For Proposition 1 Arguments Against Proposition 1
Section 1070 of the City Charter creates the structure for holding police officers accountable for misconduct while protecting them from false charges and retaliation for doing their job properly. This amendment strengthens the City's ability to hold corrupt officers accountable for their misconduct without diminishing the protections afforded to honest hardworking police officers.

When a corrupt officer uses his or her position to violate the law, the integrity of the entire Criminal Justice System is diminished. When a corrupt officer hides behind the safeguards that protect honest officers, it weakens the public's trust in the City's ability to hold officers accountable. This amendment closes the loopholes that have allowed officers to escape accountability for their misconduct.

The amendment brings the Charter into line with the new protections provided for police officers by State law. It transfers the responsibility for representing accused officers to their Police Union just like other employees of the Police Department. The current procedures were developed before a police officer had the right to join or form a Union. The current procedures are outdated and should be changed.

This amendment also clarifies language in several sections to strengthen the protections of confidential personnel records, codifies long-standing procedures, and most importantly, ensures that the disposition of serious misconduct cases remains open to public scrutiny.

Join with us in strengthening the City's ability to hold corrupt cops accountable. VOTE YES ON CHARTER AMENDMENT 1 and let justice prevail.

Richard J. Riordan, Mayor, City of Los Angeles

Bernard C. Parks, Chief of Police, Los Angeles Police Department

Mike Feuer, Councilmember, 5th District

Rocky Delgadillo, Deputy Mayor, City of Los Angeles

Cindy Miscikowski, Councilmember, 11th District; Chair, Public Safety Committee

Mitzie Grasso, President, Los Angeles Police Protective League

Joel Wachs, Councilmember, 2nd District; Member, Public Safety Committee

No argument against this measure was submitted.

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Created: April 27, 2001 02:34
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