LOS ANGELES - The ACLU of Southern California strongly objects to a City of Los Angeles proposal that would effectively end civilian oversight of six law enforcement departments and agencies. The Police Commission is expected to vote on the plan Tuesday.
The move would transfer security services of the Departments of Recreation and Parks, Library, Convention Center, Zoo and El Pueblo Historic Monument Departments, and the Community Redevelopment Agency under the direction of a newly-created Office of Public Safety in the General Services Department. Currently the agencies all fall under the watch of public commissions, but General Services does not.
In a letter sent to the Police Commission today, the ACLU of Southern California asked that the plan be reconsidered as civilian oversight is inherently important to public safety. If created, the new Office of Public Safety would include "Special Officers" who will be trained like LAPD officers and will be certified to carry firearms, make arrests and use force when needed, but the public would not have a method to monitor the actions of these officers as it does the LAPD.
"The creation of a secondary police force in the City that is not subject to similar review flies in the face of the letter and spirit of the City charter, which clearly establishes the value and need for civilian oversight of the LAPD," said ACLU/SC Criminal Justice Director Ricardo Garcia in the letter to the Commission.
The absence of public scrutiny if the new department is created is at the heart of the problem, not the idea of consolidating the security agencies, said ACLU/SC Executive Director Ramona Ripston.
"We should not diminish checks and balances in the police department, especially when the public's safety is in peril," said Ripston. "The Police Commission must not vote to move armed officers out of their supervision, where important oversights exist."