OnPolicing Blog

Is Your Agency Leading the Charge?

March 24, 2021

Written by

Allen Schubert

Lieutenant Allen Schubert
Los Angeles Police Department

By now everyone with an interest in law enforcement and mending the rifts in our fractured society has seen the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Those who have sworn to an Oath of Office realize that what happened that day has never been, is not now, or will ever be the true face of law enforcement. The outrage is justifiable and our profession’s response, depending on which city one patrols, has run the gamut from promises of reform to major budget cutting.

As you read this article, the National Police Foundation (NPF) is working with Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners (BOPC) to conduct an independent assessment of the Los Angeles Police Department’s response to the spontaneous protests resulting from this tragedy. We expect these two professional organizations will develop some objective recommendations to assist all law enforcement in meeting the increased expectations of community policing, race-relations, and proportional responses to uses of force. Our Department humbly acknowledges when we make mistakes, and this NPF report may identify areas where we can improve. We weigh all constructive criticism on the same scale as our accolades.

That said, the LAPD has never been a reactive agency. History has shown that our Department has been one of the most forward-thinking and progressive leaders in law enforcement. Proactive change is an unofficial Core Value since the 1965 Watts Riots.  Reformers unaccustomed with LAPD policy are surprised to learn that the carotid restraint hold has been designated an immediate defense of life force option since 1982.[1] Our Department has the most detailed use of force (UOF) policy in the Nation. Even a simple firm grip of an injured detainee will trigger a review process that goes through (at-minimum) four levels in a Bureau Chain of Command, before submission for additional, exhaustive analysis by the Critical Incident Review Division. If it is a Categorical Use of Force, the entire incident goes through additional analysis by the Office of the Chief of Police and the BOPC.

 

Our latest less-lethal option, known as the Bola-Wrap, is being fast-tracked through field trials. [2] It is our Department’s hope that such instruments will reduce the number of uses of force in our Department, and reaffirm to the public that our officers try to avoid a hands-on confrontation whenever possible.[3]  When Governor Gavin Newsom changed the criteria on an officer’s ability to use deadly force from “reasonable” to “necessary,” many police agencies looked at the new wording as further handcuffing of hard-working police officers. Not the LAPD—we already had the most stringent UOF policy in the nation.  Our standards for the application of force were already tougher than the federal standards being discussed in Washington D.C.[4]

The LAPD has been at the forefront in addressing discrimination in the workplace and the City of Angels. For example, when the State of California passed the Gender Recognition Act in 2017, they were playing catch-up to our forward-thinking LAPD policy makers—for we had already identified gender identity as a protected class in 2008.[5] As directed by our Professional Standards and Training Bureau, every accusation of racial profiling or discrimination triggers an immediate response by the first-available field sergeant and a Biased Policing Checklist is completed. Developed in 2010, this checklist is mandated for every investigation. After interviewing the complainant, the area is canvassed for witnesses, body worn and surveillance video is reviewed, and the officers are eventually interviewed in full accordance with the Police Officer Bill or Rights. Finally, the accused officer’s complaint history is analyzed for similar patterns of conduct in our innovative, exhaustive early-warning police database known as the Training Evaluation and Management System (TEAMS).

Nearly ten years ago, Former LAPD Police Chief Charlie Beck tasked Sergeant Emada Tingirides with developing a strategic plan for engendering greater collaboration with our officers and the underprivileged citizens living in housing developments. The Community Safety Partnership (CSP) was created and “relationship-based policing” was born. Those who once thought of our police officers as an occupying enemy now look at them as allies in curbing gang-violence and raising the next generation of confident, diverse leaders. Fast-forward ten years, and current LAPD Chief Michel Moore has expanded CSP to the Bureau level, and increased community caretaking with religious, civic and GRYD leaders.[6] For her exceptional work Tingirides was wisely promoted to Deputy Chief, and her landmark policing philosophy is now practiced throughout the city.[7]

Chief Beck developed another landmark Departmental policy: Directive 16, Tactical De-Escalation Techniques. This policy was codified in 2016 as a response to the public’s growing concern about dangerous police/citizens encounters. Since its implementation Chief Moore has made these de-escalation techniques a cause de jure for every sworn professional that ventures into the field. Coupled with Directive 16, was the newly-created Preservation of Life Medal (POLM). The POLM is awarded to an officer who has distinguished oneself by employing exceptional tactics, beyond the normal demands of duty, to preserve the life of another during a dangerous encounter. The highly-regarded commendation is a visual testament that shows how LAPD training, command and control, and situational awareness can be used to protect citizens in desperate need of mental-health assistance.[8]

Revolutionary policy-making designed to protect both officers and citizens continues under Chief Moore. Most notable of these policies are a Command-and-Control Training Directive that places greater onus on field supervisors to act in critical situations, and a Drawing-and-Exhibiting policy that documents the circumstances in which officers unholster their firearms.[9]

It is incumbent upon the Department’s 21 geographic Divisions to promote the Chief Moore’s progressive vision, and each captain tailors the policies to their brand of leadership. At the Wilshire Division—a jurisdiction that covers the Miracle Mile, CBS Studios and the famed Pan Pacific Park—Area Captain Shannon Paulson and Patrol Captain Alfonso Mendoza, both military veterans, have implemented several trend-setting concepts that are expanding to other entities. They are:

A Relentless Roll Call Training Program—The beginning of each shift starts with detailed discussion of Procedural Justice: a consistent method of operation in which community members are treated fairly, with dignity and respect, in every law enforcement encounter.[10] Officers are placed through a series of scenario-based training programs and critiqued on their ability to critically think through stressful situations. Our constant roll call training regimen is designed to remove knee-jerk, emotional reactions that harm more than help.

A Collaborative Social Media Profile—Wilshire leads the LAPD with the implementation of collaborate social media profile. Our Twitter website not only highlights the great achievements of our Department, but invites other community-oriented organizations to post their own events and accomplishments.[11] It is not a “police website,” rather, it is an online neighborhood forum hosted by LAPD’s Wilshire Division.

Extra Attention to Our Professional Patrol Officers—Both Paulson and Mendoza subscribe to Robert Greenleaf’s philosophy of Servant Leadership. As such, they have made uncompromisingly clear that our patrol officers will be supported, mentored, and applauded in every possible way. Our officers’ consistently great work, which hasn’t waned in these trying times, will never be taken for granted. Our captains know that when officers feel validated and appreciated, they carry an enthusiasm into the field that promotes goodwill.

The LAPD is an agency of change—it has been for decades. LAPD officers are the best-trained, most open-minded, rational professionals to ever don a Sam Browne duty belt.[12] We at the LAPD are always willing to listen to any study, critique, or assessment that objectively recommends what we can do better—just like any other transparent law enforcement agency. We look forward to implementing the data-driven recommendations of the objective and highly-regarded National Police Foundation. But let’s be clear; the LAPD isn’t used to waiting. When we see a way to improve the lives of the Angelenos we serve, we don’t wait till next year, next month, or next week. We make those changes immediately.

The LAPD leads the charge.

 

Sources:

[1] Posten, Ben (2020).  Police agencies are banning a controversial neck hold after george floyd’s death.  The Los Angeles Times.  https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-06-05/george-floyd-carotid-neck-hold-police

[2] Puente, Mark (2019). LAPD takes page from batman, testing device that uses tethers that wrap suspect’s bodies.  The Los Angeles Times.  https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2019-12-03/lapd-new-restraint-device

[3] The implementation of the Bola-Wrap as a permanent less-lethal option is still under review, but it demonstrates our Department’s ongoing willingness to test any device, concept, or tactic that will mitigate injurious encounters and restore public trust.

[4] Kelly, Amita and Brian Naylor.  Trump, hailing law enforcement, signs executive order calling for police reform. NPR.  https://www.npr.org/2020/06/16/877601170/watch-live-trump-to-sign-executive-order-on-police-reform

[5] OCOP.  Special Order No. 49, Policy against discrimination in employment based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.  Los Angeles Police Department.

[6] GRYD is an acronym for Gang Reduction and Youth Development, and a major focus of L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti’s plan to reduce gang violence throughout the city.  For more information see the link: Mayor’s Office Gang Reduction & Youth Development (lagryd.org)

[7] CII Trustee, LAPD Captain Emada Tingirides to Lead Newly Announced Community Safety Partnership Bureau as Deputy Chief – Children’s Institute Inc.

[8] Only the Medal of Valor holds a higher precedence in the LAPD.  The creation of the POLM is just another indication of how hard this Department is working to reduce the fear and incidence of all types of violence in the City of Los Angeles.

[9] For more information see LAPD’s Use of Force Year-End Review 2019 at  2019_uof_review.pdf (lapdonline.org)

[10] For more on Chief Moore’s pioneering Procedural Justice policy see the following link:  Contacts with the Public – Pt II, Procedural Justice (lapdonline.org)

[11] Please peruse the past year of posts on Wilshire Division’s Twitter page at  LAPD Wilshire (@LAPDWilshire) / Twitter

[12] Nobody likes a braggart. So, if you take even a modicum of offense to a Lieutenant talking up his police agency, then I congratulate you. It’s indicative of your desire to make your own department the leader in progressive policing. Frankly, I’d be concerned if you read right through it with no reaction.

 

Allen Schubert is a Lieutenant with the Los Angeles Police Department and has over 20 years of law enforcement experience. Lt. Schubert is a policing fellow at the National Police Foundation. 

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author’s and may not represent the views or official position of the National Police Foundation.

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Disclaimer: The points of view or opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official position of the National Police Foundation.