The Los Angeles Police Department Tuesday called for additional funding and personnel in an estimated $66.7 million plan to incorporate recommendations from three reports that found the department mishandled aspects of its response to last year’s protests against racism and police brutality.
The department’s proposed recommendations include purchasing technology to analyze social media profiles to be used as intelligence and encrypted radios for officers to communicate privately.
The recommendations were met with opposition from activists calling for a continued decrease to the police’s budget following the Los Angeles City Council’s move last year to cut the budget by $150 million.
“We’re circling back to exactly what people have been fighting and speaking out against, so it really is extremely an insult to the millions of people who were marching on the streets,” the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition’s campaign coordinator Hamid Khan told City News Service.
“We completely reject that and we absolutely demand that the police commission also reject that as well,” he said.
The Stop LAPD Spying Coalition, which opposes the department gathering intelligence on protesters and the public, also specifically opposes the department’s potential purchase of technology to gather intelligence from social media.
The LAPD After-Action Report Implementation Plan incorporates 106 recommendations from three reports, which were commissioned by the police commission and the City Council following mass demonstrations sparked by the May 25 killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The reports were released in March and April and found common themes of lack of preparedness, training and unity of command.
Deputy Chief Dominic Choi told commissioners that the department’s outlined recommendations “warrant a deeper dive or review as to whether it will be implemented,” and emphasized that the report is a preliminary assessment.
The department’s preliminary plan combines the 106 recommendations into 66 projects divided by a three-tier priority system with a timeline of 90-, 180- and 360-day implementations. According to LAPD Chief Michel Moore, a preliminary assessment of “full implementation” of the plan found that it would cost about $66.7 million and require an additional 49 sworn employees. The projects would be sent to “eight entities” within the LAPD for completion, Moore said in a letter to commissioners.
The “bulk of the expense” is to rethink the way the department trains employees, Moore told commissioners during the meeting Tuesday.
“When we look at the training division itself, it has 100 fewer personnel working in the training bureau today than it did five years ago,” he said. “This (proposal) is meant to signal that `we hear you’ … we hear our critics, we hear those that observe and say, `American policing today, how can you to train from top to bottom on a recurring and ongoing basis?”’
However, several people called into the police commission meeting Tuesday to support the “Defund the Police” movement and oppose the after-action report, particularly because it calls for additional funding to the department.
“At this point it’s not even a controversial thing to say that the LAPD was raging out of control last summer, and now the chief is using it as a pretext to ask for more funding for the police department. This is the opposite conclusion that needs to be drawn from the ways in which the LAPD conducted itself,” said Zach Sherwin, an L.A.-based comedian who called into the meeting.
Two projects from the reports’ recommendations were already implemented, Moore said in a letter to commissioners. One gave eye equipment to protect officers from people who allegedly point lasers into LAPD personnel’s eyes and the other established a Department Operations Center to manage large-scale and complex situations.
Twenty-eight projects have the most immediate operational needs, according to the department, and would be implemented in 90 days with a deadline of July 26. Those projects include having the department invest in encrypted radios “or another form of private communication” for officers to use, and having the L.A. City Attorney’s Office consider toughening the department’s Dispersal Code so protesters can be re-dispersed and be found in violation of the California State Penal Code if the same group reconvenes in another area within a specific time frame.
Other top priorities include:
— upgrading training, including through a two-year training plan in alignment with California training cycles and incorporating training for command staff on personnel and equipment needed for crowd management, unlawful assembly declarations and mass arrests;
— assigning detectives as arresting and investigating officers during dispersal orders at protests and using body-worn cameras to document crowd behavior and detention at field jails;
— pre-identifying and maintaining an annual list of field jails, developing a transportation plan in advance of conducting mass arrests and having each field jail staffed by a Custody Services Division representative in advance of potential mass arrests;
— using the following priorities as the basis for command and control management of an incident and personnel: life safety, incident stabilization, evidence/property preservation, continuity of operations, economy of force and the overall wellbeing of the community/feedback.
— providing officers and supervisors with “a clear and concise commander’s intent” at the beginning of any large incident or event;
— distributing a video with the commander’s intent to all personnel and establishing a unity of command to prevent conflicting missions;
— having the department and the city use social media to push information to the public and to disseminate information in response to “rumors, misinformation and false accusations;”
— providing plain clothes officers with smartphones for them to send photos and give briefings to the rest of the department regarding incidents within protest crowds; and
— establishing a Strategic Emergency Bureau with a deputy chief or civilian equivalent who has expertise in public order policing, incident command systems and liaising with other agencies.
An additional 28 projects involve equipment, planning and policy and would be implemented in 180 days with a deadline of Oct. 25. Choi told commissioners Tuesday that the priority rankings do not indicate importance, but are instead timelines for completion, as some changes — such as training — would take longer than others.
The second priority group includes engaging members of the community, including people likely to participate in protests, in the department’s preparation and training process. The department would also consider developing a special unit to have contact with activists and demonstrators before, during and after protests during this phase.
The second phase would also include purchasing technology to analyze “open-source internet and social media content to provide field operations with vetted and useable intelligence.”
Other recommendations include policies related to working with the National Guard, such as having the city weighing the risks and benefits of requesting National Guard troops quicker during future protests. The department would also consider creating a command level officer position to serve as a liaison to coordinate the Guard and the department’s response.
Other projects during the second priority phase include:
— updating the department’s directives on when to use “less lethal” weapons, such as the 37mm and 40 mm launcher, in crowds and update the approval level required for personnel who deploy each tool;
— creating an inventory system to track the amount of “less lethal” munitions used during protests;
— examining the use of the 40 mm launcher, including performance, consistent velocity, potential for ricochets and more; and
— establishing protocols so only trained members of the Metropolitan Division or officers with similar training can use the 40mm launcher.
Eight projects, which would be implemented over the course of a year and be due on April 22, 2022, include establishing “a more robust” first aid and EMT program within the department.
The Board of Police Commissioners directed the department to prepare the plan during its April 13 meeting. The board may take action to approve the plan on May 11, but Commissioner Dale Bonner said during the meeting that he doubted the proposal would be immediately adopted in full. It will likely undergo additional deliberation and discussion.
The public can submit comments on the report through May 3 at 5 p.m. To submit public comments, people can email email@example.com. The city council would also have to approve the plan before the department would receive funding for the recommendations.