TigerText Review Is Not Independent

By: 
Stephen Downing

“The president can’t have a conflict of interest” – Donald Trump.

Five months ago the news side of the Beachcomber enlisted the help of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) – and later the media giant Al Jazeera – to assist in exposing the Long Beach Police Department’s four-year use of an Instant Messaging (IM) application called TigerText.

The IM platform licensed to the LBPD by a private Santa Monica based company – TigerConnect – enabled department employees and their leadership to exchange text messages that automatically self-destruct; a violation of California records preservation law that has likely resulted in the destruction of evidence in hundreds of civil and criminal cases.

The Beachcomber’s first breaking news story headlined TigerText – LBPD’s Illegal Destruction of Evidence was published on Sept. 18.

A second story followed two days later: Police Chief Luna’s Media Interview Doesn’t Hold Water and a third the following day: LBPD TigerText Scandal Spurs Multiple Investigations.”

The result of this reporting and the national coverage that followed produced a decision by LBPD Chief Robert Luna to suspend use of TigerText pending a “study.”

The following day a City Hall press release initiated by City Manager Pat West and City Attorney Charles Parkin announced that they had formed a partnership to “initiate an outside review of the LBPD’s direct messaging application.”

City Manager Pat West, the individual responsible for oversight and supervision of the LBPD said, “Initiation of an outside review is the best course of action to fully review the facts of this matter and provide an independent, neutral review of this complex issue.”

The key words here are: independent and neutral.

West and his partner, Parkin, plan to hire – and supervise – an outside law firm to do the work. All of that work, as well as the final draft, will pass over their desks.

We have no idea what law firm it will be, how much business the law firm has done in the past – or hopes to do in the future – for the City of Long Beach.

There is an inherent conflict of interest with the city manager supervising the inquiry.

Pat West failed in his oversight responsibility to both prevent and stop the LBPD’s four-year “TigerText” assault on the rule of law.

As to Charles Parkin, so far he’s distanced himself from the City Hall conspiracy by announcing that he “would never recommend use of a system that automatically deletes records.”

But still, Parkin was around when TigerText made its City Hall debut and the “outside reviewer” should be charged with looking at everyone and anyone at City Hall in order to validate who knew what and when did they know it.

Bottom line: The only way to insure that the “outside investigation proceeds unhampered” is to keep the foxes out of the hen house and that means that Parkin and his partner, Pat West, should recuse.

But, if we do that who’s left to best guarantee that the public gets what Mayor Garcia applauds and strongly supports as an initiative that will “ensure that the city is complying with all applicable laws”?

We have a suggestion.

The law firm hired to do the job should be selected by a majority vote of the 11 citizen commissioners currently serving on the Citizen Police Complaint Commission (CPCC).

Once selected, the law firm’s lead attorney should be appointed to the position of interim Independent CPCC Investigator and empowered to receive, administer and investigate all issues related to the source, approval, implementation deployment and use of TigerText by city employees.

The people of Long Beach can look upon the Independent Investigator as our own version of Robert Mueller – working under the supervision of our 11 independent citizen commissioners.

The City Charter empowers our CPCC commissioners to: “conduct hearings, to subpoena and require the attendance of witnesses and the production of books and papers pertinent to an investigation and to administer oaths to witnesses and receive testimony.”

These are powers that even Parkin and West are not empowered to hand to an outside law firm.

These are powers – when exercised – that can protect the police officers who were ordered to participate in the brass-authorized circumvention of law. They will be enabled to testify under oath and be protected from the culture of retaliation that is so prevalent in the organizational culture of the LBPD.

Once the truth is uncovered a majority vote of  the 11 unpaid citizen commissioners doing their civic duty can produce and deliver a final report – unscreened by the West/Parkin partnership – to the City Council and the public that is independent and neutral.

That’s our idea – and we think it's a good one. If you agree, give the mayor and your councilmember a call.

 

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

stephen@beachcomber.news

Category:

Comments

Unbelievable! Pat West needs a review to figure out if the LBPD’s use of a self deleting text app used by most Detectives and Command staff is illegal/ethically immoral? Really? Pat West should resign out of shame and take his best friend Chief Luna with him. This disgraced administration has caused enough embarrassment in Long Beach, Seal Beach (Stilonovich), and Fullerton (Hendrix).
I am retired P.O. from LA and I would be embarrassed to be associated with this Barney Fife keystone cops running LBPD. I have to live here for now but I’m getting the heck out of LB as soon as possible.

When it come to disgrace, no one does it like LAPD.
Rodney King
Rodney King Riots
Rampart Incident
Steven Eugene Washington
Christopher Dorner
Luis Valenzuela and James Nichols
Ronald Weekley Jr.
Russell Mecano
Michelle Jordan
Javier Ovando
Alesia Thomas
Kennedy Garcia Incident
Abdul Arian
https://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=95592&page=1

If the TigerText app was necessary for legitimate, secure communication, it should have been licensed for use by everyone carrying a LBPD phone. Instead, it was deployed selectively. Critics of the LBPD have long claimed that there is an "in" group or clique within the department that covers up instances of misconduct, and retaliates against whistleblowers. The selective use of TigerText -- in violation of city policy as well as state law -- lends credence to claims that there is a privileged, favored group within the department. We now know that for the past four years, this favored group has had the means to communicate and coordinate with each other in secret.

Was Tiger Text used by CPCC Executive Director Anitra Dempsey or CPCC Special Investigator Patrick Weithers to communicate with Long Beach police commanders and Internal Affairs investigators?

Do any individuals who work for the Long Beach Police Department, City of Long Beach, Los Angeles District Attorney's office, or the Los Angeles County Sheriff's office use TigerText on their personal phones? Why?

It is laughable to assert that local public officials are capable of investigating themselves and penalizing themselves for violating laws and the public trust.

For the city to have any credibility in this matter, Mayor Robert Garcia must call for a federal investigation.

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