What Are the Cops, City Manager and City Attorney Hiding?

By: 
Stephen Downing

On June 9, the Long Beach City Council will vote to direct the city manager to “take a fresh look” at the performance of the Citizen Police Complaint Commission’s (CPCC) work over the past five years to “identify options for increasing accountability and transparency in the relationship between our Police Department and the community.”

That’s a good idea, but the City Council will be asking the wrong folks to take that fresh look.

And the “look” should not be just into the past five years, but all the way back to the CPCC’s original design and implementation 30 years ago when a charter amendment creating the CPCC was submitted to a vote of the people in order to pacify the throngs of demonstrators protesting police brutality at City Hall; much like the massive crowd seen chanting expletives and calling out Mayor Garcia for his years of silence, lack of action and hypocrisy this past week.

In other words, not much has changed since 1990.

Why?

Because the “people” had nothing to do with the CPCC charter design. They only voted for what City Hall promised would be a solution.

The actual design and subsequent supervision of CPCC operations was an inside job orchestrated by the city manager in lock step with the Police Officer’s Association (POA), the city attorney and the LBPD.

The CPCC designers heralded “civilian oversight” as the panacea solution while delivering a devious paper-tiger-pacifier and public relations machine that would continue to service the evasion of police transparency and allow the LBPD to escape accountability for the “knee on the neck” brutality that has continued over the past 30 years.

So, this time around, rather than allowing those who drink at the POA treasury for campaign funds to do the job, the “fresh look” and a new design should be put in the hands of those most affected by LBPD’s “knee on the neck. “

Former CPCC commissioner Richard Lindemann, who just yesterday acknowledged that the current CPCC operation “is a farce” said it best, “A better idea would be to have the council appoint a blue-ribbon commission made up of people of color affected by police violence, educators, activists and others affected parties, as well as former CPCC commissioners like me and (the current commissioner) Mr. Gilberg. We can tell it like it is.”

What should the council be looking for?

If the City Council really wants a jump-start on getting to the bottom of the LBPD’s inadequacies, they have a ready-made study sitting in the wings.

It’s a deep dive “objective study by policing experts from the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) that identifies the needs, concerns, and practices that impedes organizational effectiveness within the police department and provides governing body officials and police command staff with a prescriptive series of actionable measures to effect meaningful organizational change.”

The City Council put up $96,000 for the study in July 2017.

In a news article published on Aug. 3, 2017 the Beachcomber congratulated the LBPD for “having the courage to expose the department – and the city – to the needed reform possibilities that will hopefully come from the study.” https://beachcomber.news/content/international-association-assessing-police-dept

In the same article, the Beachcomber reported upon the content of community meetings held by the IACP experts, which included issues surrounding officer involved shootings, excessive force, sub-standard operations and personnel policy, quality of investigations, the culture of noble cause corruption, retaliation and the cost of lawsuits that have reportedly cost the city $30 million in the last five years.

The reason the Beachcomber offered its congratulations is because the LBPD and the council promised that the results would be made public, thus assuring that whatever defects were exposed there would be no back-tracking on reforms that could deliver solutions.

But that was not to happen.

In February 2019 City Hall brass announced that it was ending the contract and had reached an agreement with the IACP that “no final report will be issued, and no further payments will be made.”

The City Council had approved the contract, but apparently had nothing to do with the City Hall insiders walking away from it, after paying out $48,000 of the people’s money.

The usual suspects, including the city manager, city attorney and LBPD brass (with POA influence lurking in the background) made the excuse that the IACP didn’t meet the time frame required of the contract, omitting any mention of the foot dragging and internal incompetence the IACP experienced with the LBPD brass’ inability to deliver the data, reports and policy statements needed on a timely basis – and as required by the contract.

At the time the shut-down announcement was made the Beachcomber had already determined that a draft of the final report – known as Phase Four – had been delivered to the LBPD, as the police commander assigned as liaison had acknowledged that fact in response to an earlier Beachcomber email inquiry.

Following the announcement – and seeing the city action as another cover-up to avoid public knowledge as to just how poorly the LBPD was administered, the Beachcomber filed a Public Records Request (PRA) to obtain the Phase Four report.

The LBPD responded, “No such report exists.”

The Beachcomber later learned that a civil rights lawyer, representing an African American named Christopher Williams in a federal action against the city for excessive force (breaking Williams’ arm while handcuffing him) (https://beachcomber.news/content/frustration-dishonesty) had successfully subpoenaed the Phase Four Report from the IACP.

Legal documents indicate that the IACP’s Phase Four report is 126 pages in length and the index associated with the report suggests that the deep dive findings by the IACP are most likely highly damaging to the City Hall-manufactured image the POA and the LBPD attempts to pound into the public consciousness on a daily basis.

Unfortunately, Williams’ lawyer was unable to share the report with the Beachcomber because it was produced under a protective order made by the federal court.

However, in researching the circumstances surrounding the subpoena as well as legal documents in which the city if fighting another excessive force lawsuit in which attorneys are trying to obtain the IACP report, the Beachcomber learned that the City of Long Beach, although being sued by Williams, was not a party to the IACP’s production of that Phase Four Report, because the city made no move to quash the subpoena that was served on the IACP.

Following the IACP’s response to the Williams subpoena, the police chief’s organization provided – according to legal documents – a “courtesy copy” to the City of Long Beach.

Upon learning about the “courtesy copy” the Beachcomber filed another PRA to obtain the document in possession of the city on May 7.

The city’s initial response was to assert “The city only has a copy of the IACP draft study as a party in a federal lawsuit. The IACP draft study is subject to a protective order in that lawsuit, and the protective order severely restricts disclosure of the report…”

When told of the city’s position, Thomas Beck, counsel for the Beachcomber on two other PRA’s made under the authority of Senate Bill 1421 and stonewalled by the city (https://beachcomber.news/content/beachcomber-sues-long-beach-police-department) said, “The protective order does not consider the city, even as a defendant, in the Williams case, a protected party. The benefits and burdens (of the protective order) fall to Williams and his attorney and the IACP and its attorney.”

When discussing the city’s position with City Attorney Charles Parkin’s representative prior to their final response to the Beachcomber’s PRA, the deputy city attorney framed her “protective order” argument as an apology for not being able to be more transparent.

The Beachcomber replied: “If you believe that you really are a party to the protective order and would otherwise like to release the order in favor of full transparency, then would you be willing to approach the court and ask that the Phase Four report be released for the benefit of the Long Beach Community?”

Parkin's representative took a long beat and replied, “NO.”

On May 28 the Beachcomber received its final answer from Parkin’s office. Production of the IACP Phase Four document in possession of the city was denied.

In its June 9 meeting, instead of asking the city manager to undertake a “fresh look” at CPCC operations, the City Council should direct City Attorney Charles Parkin to release the IACP Phase Four report. It would give all of them a jump-start on police reforms – and maybe even provide a boost to their credibility.

 

Stephen Downing is a resident of Long Beach and a retired LAPD deputy chief of police.

stephen.beachcomber@gmail.com.

Category:

Comments

LBPD and city corruption at its best. They lied regarding having the report in the first place; LBPD responded, “No such report exists.” Am sure they did not want the report completed or any part of it released because it exposed corruption, misconduct and incompetence. We should demand the city release this report that we the TAXPAYER paid for. This is another example of how the corrupt city and Police Department are just hiding and saying BS about wanting to change the city for the better. If this is not the case then let us see this report [that] we paid for.

Wow! Big Surprise!! Good luck with change! All corrupt and always will be!

The Beachcomber should formally resubmit its PRA request and, when denied, take the City to court. This is bad conduct on the City's part, really bad.

Mr Downing,

Your entire police career spanned the decades where the most heinous and insane police brutality occurred. Your Dept and officers led the way, batons first, in countless un-reported uses of force against the poor and people of color. Are you trying to make amends for your part of the past now?

Wow it looks like Downing got under somebody skin like city rep or Police Department person.. I guess you hit a nerve the truth hurts..

Scapegoating and straw-manning are the two lowest forms of debate possible. It is much more effective to use actual facts to prove your point. His position as a former Deputy Chief of the LAPD gives him a reason to be biased in favor of the police, if anything. That he still sees a problem with the LBPD means there must really be a problem.

Garcia and Luna-cy dithered while Long Beach burned

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