After multiple journalists were detained by Los Angeles Police Department officers while covering the March 25 demonstrations at Echo Park Lake, Chief Michel Moore told police commissioners Tuesday that the department is working to reform its credentialing process.
“We need a means of which to issue those credentials more expeditiously, including potentially on scene or announcing a site that will do credentialing for an upcoming announced event. Those are the processes that are being worked on now,” Moore said during Tuesday’s police commission meeting.
He also said that the department should work with members of the media “to obtain from those individuals their definition of how credentialing should be accomplished, as well as who constitutes a member of the media,” referring to journalists whose work is primarily through social media and not a traditional media outlet.
Los Angeles Times reporter James Queally, who was detained while covering the protests despite showing officers his credentials, tweeted his response to Moore’s comments at the meeting:
“OK, but can we have a discussion as to what constitutes accepted creds? National news happens here, and out-of-towners won’t have LAPD/LASD creds. During the Echo Park Lake protests, reporters with Nat’l Press Photographers Assn. creds were arrested,” Queally wrote.
He added that the New York Police Department has accepted his LAPD credentials when he covered national news stories in that state.
The LAPD has come under fire in recent weeks from the public, the media and members of the Los Angeles City Council for its detention of journalists covering the protests against the city’s closure of Echo Park Lake and the clearing of a large homeless encampment that had developed in the park during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On March 25, officers detained Queally, as well as Spectrum News 1’s Kate Cagle, who had Los Angeles County credentials, and Knock L.A. reporters Jonathan Peltz and Kate Gallagher.
Councilmen Mike Bonin and Kevin de Leon introduced a motion on March 31 requesting a report from the LAPD on officers’ detention of journalists and the department’s broader conduct toward journalists, including its credential process.
The Society of Professional Journalists Greater Los Angeles chapter said they requested an investigation by the police commission and the determination of what additional training is needed to “ensure the LAPD correctly identifies members of the news media at breaking news events and allows them to have freedom of movement to cover those events.”
During Tuesday’s meeting, commissioners asked Moore for information about the current credentialing process. Moore responded that members of the media who want credentials must provide proof to the department’s media relations division that they are a “bona fide member of a media outlet.”
Moore said the current system is criticized for being too narrow, too cumbersome and too slow, as well as leaving out freelance journalists.
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