Public-safety plan advances

first_imgEfforts to consolidate hundreds of public-safety officers under a single department gained momentum Monday when a City Council committee approved a plan to give the new agency more civilian oversight. Still needing action from the full City Council, the plan would put almost 400 officers for city libraries, parks, the Convention Center, the L.A. Zoo, the El Pueblo Historic Monument and some other areas under a single Office of Public Safety. East San Fernando Valley Councilwoman Wendy Greuel, who has spearheaded the effort, said she wants to replace a cumbersome, noncommunicative setup, which some call “the Tower of Babel,” with a coordinated effort. “Under the existing system, we are inefficient,” she said. After concerns were raised by groups including the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, city officials revamped the plan to include a civilian oversight commission and a role for the Police Commission’s inspector general in reviewing complaints and use-of-force incidents. Councilman Jack Weiss, chairman of the Public Safety Committee, called for even more involvement by the Police Commission, adding that civilian oversight of the Los Angeles Police Department has a longer history than oversight of security provided by the other city departments. LAPD personnel will train the 400 public-safety officers, some of whom carry guns, and work with them from time to time on overlapping cases. The panel heard from several public-safety officers who largely support the consolidation, though some concerns remain. “The park rangers are ready and willing to move into this new office,” said Joe Tafoya of the Los Angeles City Park Rangers. The park rangers are eager for an answer because some ranger positions have been left unfilled while consolidation is debated, Tafoya said. “We’re not fielding proper deployment now, (and) our parks are suffering,” he said. Two community residents told the panel they fear skilled rangers would be moved out of their current park postings in a reorganization, but Tafoya said there would be no such redeployment. The strongest opposition came from the Los Angeles General Services Police Officers Association, a group of about 26 officers trying to break away from their current union representation. The association, which has hired former City Councilman Richard Alatorre as an adviser, feels it has been left out of the process, said leader Donald A. Taylor. The group wants to be sure its members, whose duties include providing government security services, are treated like other law enforcement officers, Taylor said. One area of concern for Taylor’s group is a provision that would prohibit Office of Public Safety personnel from engaging in vehicle pursuits. “The pursuit policy is ludicrous,” Taylor said. The LAPD has expressed concern about allowing security officers to engage in pursuits, which are inherently dangerous and should be limited in general, said Cmdr. Mike Bostic. The LAPD and city officials will likely discuss the matter before the plan goes to the City Council, Bostic said. Dan Laidman, (213) 978-0390 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more