Following a report from the inspector general showing that nearly 41% of Los Angeles Police Department officers who shot at people in violation of department policy were not disciplined between 2015 and 2020, the city’s Police Commission voted Tuesday to have a similar report updated each month and published on the department’s website.
“I think in the interest of transparency, we should make this report available on the ongoing basis and not wait for the next (inspector general) report,” said the commission’s Vice President Eileen Decker, who motioned to have the report updated regularly.
LAPD Inspector General Mark Smith reviewed 45 incidents of officers opening fire between 2015 and 2020 that the Board of Police Commissioners found to be out of policy. Sixty-six officers involved in those 45 incidents fired at least one round, with a total of 301 rounds fired, 228 of which were found to be out of policy.
According to the report, 27 of those 66 officers escaped punishment, while 13 were reprimanded, one was fired, four received two-day suspensions, one received a three-day suspension, four received five-day suspensions, two received 10-day suspensions, three received 15-day suspensions, one received a 20-day suspension, four received 22-day suspensions and one received a 55-day suspension.
Three cases are still pending. Two officers resigned before their penalty was imposed.
An officer can only be fired if approved in a hearing by the department’s Board of Rights. Between 2015 and 2020, the LAPD’s chiefs — Charlie Beck until 2018 and Michel Moore beginning in 2018 — directed nine people to the Board of Rights with the recommendation for them to be fired.
Only one was fired, while one accepted a settlement with a 22-day suspension and immediate retirement, four were suspended for 10 to 55 days, and one Board of Rights determination is still pending. Two cases were suspended after the employees resigned.
Following the Police Commission’s determination that a shooting is out of policy, the chief of police can choose either to have the officers undergo “extensive retraining,” issue a “notice to correct deficiencies” or launch a personnel complaint investigation, according to the report. All 66 officers were directed to complete extensive retraining.
Personnel complaint investigations were launched for 37 of the 66 officers. The remaining 29 received notice to correct deficiencies, and of those officers, members of the public initiated complaints against 22 of them.
The report also detailed a process in which sworn personnel can opt for an administrative appeal. In two cases mentioned by the inspector general, officers were facing a proposed five-day suspension and the administrative appeal’s hearing examiner recommended an official reprimand, which the chief of police upheld.
In 18 cases, the Board of Police Commissioners found shootings to be out of policy and extensive training was imposed, before an appeal, which caused cases to be reduced to not-guilty verdicts.
According to the inspector general, by the time of the appeal, the officers likely would have already underwent the training, but he said “it’s more to do with the record in their personnel file as to what the ultimate outcome of the case was.”
“I’m concerned with the process where one hearing examiner presents a non-binding recommendation to a chief of police that has the effect of overturning a decision of the Board of Police Commissioners,” Decker said before motioning to get more information about that process and its lawfulness.
The Board of Police Commissioners approved Decker’s proposed motion to get more information about the appeal process.