Election Brings Changes to LAUSD, LAPD

May 18, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Voters on Tuesday shook up the Los Angeles Unified School District Board, creating a four-member majority of charter school supporters with the election of Kelly Gonez and Nick Melvoin, meanwhile Los Angeles police officers facing disciplinary action will now have the choice to have their case heard by an all-civilian panel with the passage of Measure C.

 

LA Unified

A pair of candidates heavily backed by charter-school proponents will be taking over seats on the Los Angeles Unified School District board, potentially signaling a major policy shift in the nation’s second-largest school district.

Despite topping a four-candidate field in the March primary, LAUSD board president Steve Zimmer couldn’t repeat that success in Tuesday’s runoff, and he was soundly defeated by teacher/attorney Nick Melvoin.

In District 6, meanwhile, another charter-school-backed candidate, Kelly Gonez, prevailed in a much tighter race over union-backed Imelda Padilla in the battle for the vacant seat. With all precincts reporting, Gonez finished with a 748-vote advantage. According to the Los Angeles City Clerk’s Office, nearly 40,000 ballots from across the city still need to be tallied from Tuesday’s election, but it’s unknown how many of those are from LAUSD District or whether the outcome of the race might be affected.

Assuming there is no change, Gonez and Melvoin will join incumbents Monica Garcia and Ref Rodriguez to create a four-member majority of charter-school supporters on the board.

With the unions and well-heeled backers of charter-school expansion pouring big money into the races, Tuesday’s runoff became what is believed to be one of the most expensive school board elections in history, with an estimated $15 million being spent by and on behalf of the various candidates.

 

LAPD

Los Angeles police officers facing disciplinary hearings will have a choice of appearing before an all-civilian review board or a panel that includes two command-level officers, thanks to voters’ approval of a ballot measure condemned by critics as a weakening of the LAPD’s disciplinary system.

The LAPPL argued the current system is unfair because of the belief that the police chief has undue influence on sworn members of board of rights panels.

Under the just-passed measure, an officer facing disciplinary action will be able to choose whether the case will be reviewed by an all-civilian panel or a traditional board with two sworn officers and one civilian.

A host of community organizations spoke out against Measure C, saying it was an effort by the LAPPL to weaken the department’s disciplinary process. They also argued that it was crafted without any significant community input.

“Measure C creates an inconsistent disciplinary process that protects cops found guilty of serious acts of misconduct and reverses decades of work to reform LAPD,” said Karren Lane, vice president of policy at the Community Coalition.

The council placed the measure on the ballot in the face of a staff report that found civilians serving on board of rights panels have consistently voted for lighter penalties compared to officers on the panels.

 

L.A. Residents Can Exchange Guns for Gift Cards

May 11, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

As part of it’s effort to reduce gun violence, the City of Los Angeles will exchange gift cards for firearms Saturday during anonymous Gun Buyback collection events in downtown Los Angeles and the San Fernando valley.

Launched in 2009, the Gun Buyback initiative is led by the GRYD Foundation in partnership with the LAPD. The goal is to reduce the number of guns on the streets that could end up being used as part of a crime, leading to death or injury.

The upcoming collection events, according to the city, are part of the strategy to reduce violence during summer months, and are focused in areas with the highest propensity for violence.

Allowing guns to be turned in anonymously has encouraged people who, for a variety of reasons — including not having a permit or being the registered owner — would otherwise not take part in the program, according to organizers.

To take part, the person wanting to surrender a single or multiple firearms, will drive through the collection line, stop, and wait as the firearms are inspected and classified. Firearms should be unloaded and in the trunk of the vehicle. Participants then complete a survey and received a Target gift card upon departure.

The gift card amount is up to $100 for all handguns, rifles, and shotguns surrendered and up to $200 for assault weapons as classified by the State of California, while supplies last.

Guy Buybacks will be held Saturday, May 13 from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. at the Los Angeles Sports Arena (3939 S. Figueroa St. LA) and Facey Medical Center (11165 Sepulveda Blvd., Mission Hills). For more information, call 877-LAPD-247.

LAPD Sued Over Public Record Requests

April 27, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – The American Civil Liberties Union Tuesday filed suit against the Los Angeles Police Department for allegedly “stonewalling”  in response to requests for public records.

The complaint, filed in federal court, contends the LAPD “consistently” disregards the 1968 California Public Records Act, which stipulates that an agency must respond to a request for public records within, at most, 24 days.

“Instead, the LAPD often refuses to respond to requests by journalists and others for months or even years, and in many cases does not respond at all,” according to the ACLU of Southern California.

“In cases where documents are finally released, the agency many times only partly fulfills the lawful requests.”

An LAPD spokeswoman said the department does not comment on pending litigation. The suit asks a federal judge to compel the LAPD to track and report how it responds to public records inquiries for at least three years.

Joining the ACLU as plaintiffs are investigative reporter Ali Winston, associate UCLA history professor Kelly Lytle Hernandez, and activist and photographer Shawn Nee.

“Access to information about the conduct of government agencies is a fundamental and necessary right of every person in this state,” said Adrienna Wong, attorney with the ACLU of Southern California. “The LAPD’s stonewalling and disregard of legal requests denies the public’s right to know.”

LAPD Adopta Norma para Prevenir uso de Armas por Agentes

April 27, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Los agentes del Departamento de Policía de Los Ángeles (LAPD) deberán tratar otras medidas disuasorias antes de utilizar sus armas durante un enfrentamiento, dicta una disposición aprobada el 18 de abril.

La Comisión de la Policía de Los Ángeles, un grupo de cinco civiles que vigila a la labor de la policía Angelina, ordenó que se adopte en el reglamento de los agentes la obligación de intentar disminuir la presión en una situación de enfrentamiento antes de utilizar fuerza mortal.

Así, antes de utilizar sus armas de fuego, los agentes deberán “tratar de controlar el incidente ganando tiempo, la distancia, las comunicaciones y los recursos disponibles, en un esfuerzo de no escalar la situación, si es seguro y razonable hacerlo”, señala la instrucción que será añadida al preámbulo de la política de utilización de la fuerza por parte del LAPD.

El jefe de la policía Angelina, el comandante Charlie Beck apoyó las recomendaciones señalando que fueron acordados con la participación de la Liga Protectora de la Policía, que es el sindicato de los agentes de la ciudad.

“No sólo pienso que es una política bien pensada que producirá cambios en el uso de la fuerza en la práctica y en el entrenamiento, sino también creo que es un modelo de colaboración”, declaró Beck al aprobarse la nueva medida.

Las acciones previas a la utilización de un arma por parte de un policía, serán tenidas en cuenta por la comisión para establecer si el uso de la fuerza estuvo justificado o no.

No obstante, activistas que han denunciado el abuso de la utilización de las armas por miembros de la policía de Los Ángeles, manifestaron su desagrado con la medida pues no ofrece más detalles de cómo lograr la disminución de la tensión en un caso y solamente está incluido en el preámbulo de la política sobre el tema.

El número de disparos por parte de los agentes en 2016 fue de 40, mientras que el 2015 subió a 48, según un informe del LAPD.

El año pasado, 19 personas murieron por balas disparadas por la policía en comparación con los 21 que murieron en 2015.

LAPD Policy Calls for Officers to ‘De-escalate’

April 20, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

The Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners approved new policies Tuesday that call on officers to use more de-escalation techniques before resorting to deadly force.

The changes come amid a heightened focus on police shootings, both in Los Angeles and across the country, and as the commission works to decrease the number of deadly encounters between officers and the public.

One of the changes, which will be added to the preamble of the department’s official use-of-force policy, states that officers “shall attempt to control an incident by using time, distance, communications and available resources in an effort to de-escalate the situation, whenever it is safe and reasonable to do so.”

The changes stem from a set of recommendations issued in March of last year by Commission President Matthew Johnson and then-Commissioner Robert Saltzman, and the measures will be considered when an officer is facing possible discipline for using force.

Police Chief Charlie Beck voiced support for the policy change, which he said was negotiated with the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union representing rank-and-file officers. Union leaders had voiced concern over the changes when they were first brought forward.

“I think not only is this a good policy that is well thought-out that will make changes in our use of force in practice and in training, but I think it’s also a model for collaboration,” Beck said.

“This is a very difficult subject that has a number of stakeholders with very strong opinions. And for all of us to be able to come together and to work through this and to take the time to make something that the union agrees with, the commission agrees with and the department’s management agrees with is a significant step forward,” according to the chief.

According to the LAPPL, the change simply formalizes a policy that has always been in place.

“Preserving innocent lives and de-escalating dangerous situations has always been, and will continue to be, a core value for Los Angeles police officers. We train on these values at our academy and practice them every day in the service of our community,” according to the union. “We worked hard to formalize these values into a department policy that will provide for the ability of police officers to protect their personal safety and the safety of innocent bystanders.”

The commission approved the policy change on a 5-0 vote over objections from activists who spoke out against the language changes. Many argued the significant additions are only included in the preamble to the policy and do not include any detailed breakdown or mention of de-escalation techniques in the section outlining factors that will be considered to determine the reasonableness of a use of force.

Commissioner Cynthia McClain-Hill raised concerns over the lack of any mention of de-escalation in the factors section, but still voted for the changes.

“I have to say that language matters,” she said.

McClain-Hill did make a motion that the commission and department continue to work to include explicit language about de-escalation in the sections of the policy that reference deadly force, which was also approved.

Pete White of the Los Angeles Community Action Network was one of more than a dozen speakers who voiced opposition to the language used in the changes.

“Why did the department highlight de-escalation in the preamble but left it out of the standards that can be evaluated? That would be a question that you should go back to, Cynthia, because you are very clear that if you put it in the preamble, the preamble ain’t policy,” White said. ”It means nothing when you get behind the doors and begin to evaluate our murders.”

Black Lives Matter and other activist groups, the last few years have argued that the department doesn’t do enough to avoid deadly encounters and organized frequent demonstrations against the commission and the LAPD.

Many of the speakers who expressed outrage at the department Tuesday over the policy changes said the amendments either didn’t go far enough, weren’t clear enough or would end up being toothless due to the significant changes only being in the preamble. Others were angry the public wasn’t engaged enough when the changes were considered.

“Changes to language in the use-of-force policy to incorporate the language of de-escalation will not change conditions on the ground,” said Jerry Dietrich of the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition.

 

Two Critically Injured in Lincoln Heights: Sheriffs Investigating

April 17, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

The investigation into two males found critically injured today in the Lincoln Heights area, one with a gunshot wound, has led to three separate crime scenes, according to authorities.

Officers were sent to Medford and Ricardo streets at about 6:45 a.m., said Officer Drake Madison of the Los Angeles Police Department. A male was found shot and wounded at that location and was taken to a hospital in critical condition, the LAPD reported.

A second male was found suffering a “blunt force” injury about a block away on Soto Street and Valley Boulevard, and also was taken to a hospital in critical condition, police said. It was not immediately known if the males were adults or juveniles, police said.

Police initially said the injuries might have been connected with a traffic crash in the area, but KNX-1070 Radio is reporting the shooting may have occurred outside the area, about 1-mile east in county territory.

Los Angeles County Sheriffs’ detectives have joined the investigation, KNX-1070 reported.

The driver of the purple sedan said to be involved in the crash may have been trying to get the shooting victim to County USC hospital, according to the news report.

One of the men fled the vehicle following the crashing, collapsing about a quarter-mile away.

Police detained two men in nearby Lincoln Park, a short distance from where the injured men were found. How they are connected to the injured men is not yet clear.

Authorities have yet to speculate on a motive for the shooting.

Hate Crimes Jump 15% in Los Angeles

April 6, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Hate crimes in the city of Los Angeles hit multi-year highs in 2016, according to an analysis released Tuesday by Cal State San Bernardino researchers, who pegged the overall increase at 15 percent.

The report by the university’s Center on Hate & Extremism found that last year’s increase to 230 hate crimes, from 200 in 2015, was driven in large part by a 64 percent surge in violent aggravated assaults, an 18.5 percent rise in racially motivated crimes and a 24.5 percent increase in crimes against the LGBGT community.

“Catalytic or national events can impact the number of hate crimes, but so do local events, economics and individual conflicts at the neighborhood level,” said Brian Levin, director of the CSUSB center. “It’s a combination of things.”

At the same time, religious hate crimes against Jews and Muslims declined significantly in the city during the period, the researchers found.

There have been no bias homicides reported by the Los Angeles Police Department in the last two years.

By comparison, aggravated assaults overall in the city during 2016 rose about 10 percent, and the number of robberies increased 13 percent.

“The city of Los Angeles prides itself on being a multicultural haven,” said Dr. Kevin Grisham, the center’s assistant director for research.

“It’s troubling to see significant increases in these crimes.”

Of the localities surveyed, Los Angeles had the third-largest number of hate crimes in the nation, with only New York and Boston reporting more, the researchers said.

The three dozen reported aggravated assaults include physical attacks with a weapon or attacks capable of producing serious bodily injury. Hate crimes are criminal acts motivated in significant part by the actual or perceived group characteristic of another such as race, religion and sexual orientation.

For Los Angeles, the 2016 hate crime totals were the highest since 2008, when the city recorded 280 hate crimes. While 2016 marked the third annual consecutive increase, last year’s totals are still far below various highs tallied in recent decades.

In 2001, the year of the 9/11 terror attacks, Los Angeles had 559 hate crimes, the highest number so far this century. In 1992, official data did not accurately include the 60-plus people killed and others injured in rioting following the state trial acquittal of the officers involved in the videotaped Rodney King police beating, according to the report.

Levin said the majority of hate crimes remain unreported, some due to the controversy over immigration.

“We’re worried that with the increase in attention paid to immigration issues, many victims will be hesitant to report hate crimes for fear of deportation,” he said.

While Los Angeles had three straight years of rising hate crime, the nation has not seen consecutive increases since 2004.

 

Disminuyen Denuncias de Ataques Sexuales en Los Ángeles

April 6, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Una disminución del número de denuncias de crímenes sexuales en Los Ángeles ha puesto en evidencia el miedo de los indocumentados a ser deportados y las diferentes posturas de los cuerpos policiales respecto a cómo aplicar las normas de inmigración y si deben existir los “santuarios”.

Mientras el jefe de la policía de la ciudad, Charly Beck, ha dejado claro que sus agentes no están interesados en la condición migratoria de los residentes de la ciudad, el jefe de alguaciles del condado de Los Ángeles (LASD), Jim McDonnell, apoya abiertamente el colaborar con las autoridades federales de inmigración.

“El LAPD depende de la confianza de los residentes de Los Ángeles. Documentados o indocumentados hoy nos comprometemos a estar con ustedes”, aseguró Beck en su cuenta de Twitter.

Beck se pronunció de esa manera después de haber atribuido una baja en el número de denuncias de crímenes sexuales a que la comunidad indocumentada teme acudir a las autoridades por miedo a las deportaciones.

Según las estadísticas del LAPD, entre el 1 de enero y el 18 de marzo hubo 123 reportes de víctimas de asaltos sexuales, comparados con 164 en el mismo período de 2016, lo que significa una “inusual” disminución del 25%, en palabras de Beck.

El jefe policial opinó que se debe atribuir al “temor de la comunidad indocumentada a denunciar” este tipo de delitos, pues aunque también hubo una disminución en los reportes de víctimas no latinas de ataques sexuales, sólo fue del 3%, destaca el informe.

Las críticas al jefe de la policía de Los Ángeles por atribuir la disminución de denuncias exclusivamente a las acciones de inmigración no se han hecho esperar.

Para Dan Cadman, analista del Centro para Estudios de Inmigración, organización que se opone a la inmigración ilegal, no se puede descartar que la disminución de denuncias esté directamente ligada con la reducción de delitos.

“Entonces está la cuestión, ¿por qué sólo ese pequeño subconjunto de crímenes se vio afectado? Para plantear una verdadera causa y efecto, ¿este temor a las remociones, que supuestamente da lugar a no denunciar crímenes, no se extendería a toda la gama de delitos?”, cuestionó Cadman en un comentario enviado a Efe.

“¿Qué pasa con los asaltos físicos y los ataques no sexuales? ¿Qué hay de los robos a los vehículos o del robo de autos? ¿También se ha informado de que todos han caído entre los latinos? No lo sabemos”, argumentó el analista.

El reporte de los alguaciles del condado de Los Ángeles sobre delitos violentos en ese mismo periodo mostró que los homicidios disminuyeron un 1.8%, los robos aumentaron un 1% y los ataques graves se redujeron un 3.8%.

En referencia a los delitos contra la propiedad, el robo de vehículos aumentó un 7.6% y el hurto de objetos dentro de los autos se elevó en un 5.1%, mientras los robos a las personas disminuyeron un 6.9%.

McDonnell, el jefe de los alguaciles del condado, defendió la necesidad de colaborar con las autoridades federales de inmigración y criticó la propuesta legislativa SB54 que convertiría a California en un “estado santuario”.

“La SB54 prohíbe que mi agencia responda a las solicitudes federales de notificación cuando una de mis instalaciones carcelarias aloje a alguien acusado de un delito que podría ser sujeto de una acción de inmigración”, expresó McDonnell en una comunicación obtenida por Efe.

Guadalupe Mejía, directora de servicios de emergencia y voluntariado de Paz sobre Violencia, una organización que trabaja para eliminar la violencia doméstica y sexual, está de acuerdo con Beck en que la confianza en las autoridades es muy importante.

“Las personas que han sufrido abuso necesitan quién las escuche y quién las apoye y las proteja. Ellas deben saber que no están solas”, señaló Mejía.

Las autoridades de inmigración, por su parte, aseguran que están haciendo su trabajo e insisten en la importancia de que las autoridades locales colaboren en el esfuerzo.

“La mayor amenaza para la seguridad pública es la continua falta de voluntad de las autoridades locales para cumplir con los requerimientos de detención de inmigración”, declaró Virginia Kice, portavoz para la Región Oeste del Servicio de Inmigración y Control de Aduanas (ICE).

Paralelamente legisladores y funcionarios electos de California se preparan para enfrentar posibles recortes en la ayuda federal por su posición de “jurisdicciones santuario”.

“La amenaza de la Administración para retener fondos federales es equivocada e inconstitucional”, dijo el alcalde de San Francisco, Ed Lee, al reaccionar este lunes a la petición del Fiscal General de la nación, Jeff Sessions, para que los estados y jurisdicciones locales cumplan con las leyes federales de inmigración.

Guatemalteco Sigue Esperando Juicio por Asesinato de Familia

March 23, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Un guatemalteco acusado de matar hace 17 años a su padre, madrastra y dos hermanos, que fue extraditado hace dos años para iniciar juicio, sigue esperando a que las autoridades de Los Ángeles logren probar su culpabilidad y nuevamente cancelaron su aparición en corte el 17 de marzo.

Saulo Cesar Alvarado Amaya, de 35 años de edad, había sido deportado a Guatemala en 2003 y extraditado a principios del 2015 para responder por los cargos de asesinato bajo circunstancias especiales.

Los hechos ocurrieron el 26 de abril de 1999 en Hyde Park, un área al sur de Los Ángeles, donde fueron descubiertos los cuerpos de Rodolfo Alvarado, de 51 años; su esposa Eva Verónica, de 36 años; y sus dos hijos, Renzo, de 16, y Víctor, de 4, quienes recibieron cada uno un disparo con un revólver.

Según el fiscal de la División de Delitos Mayores, Víctor Ávila, el arma había sido colocada en la mano de Renzo, para que pareciera que se trataba de un homicidio-suicidio.

En el momento del ataque Alvarado tenía 16 años, la misma edad de su medio hermano Renzo, al que quiso inculpar.

El caso fue investigado por el Departamento de Policía de Los Ángeles (LAPD), no obstante la fiscalía no reveló porque el inmigrante no fue acusado en 1999.

Luego en el 2003, Alvarado, que también está acusado de dos cargos de acto lascivo contra un menor, fue deportado a Guatemala después de pagar una condena por violación en un caso no relacionado.

El sospechoso habría sido capturado en Guatemala en el 2014 y extraditado a Los Ángeles, California, en febrero del 2015. En el momento de su arresto en Guatemala, Alvarado estaba casado y es padre de dos niños.

En ese país centroamericano el hombre aseguró que él es una víctima del sistema y que su padre lo dejó cuando tenía dos años para emigrar a Estados Unidos y luego lo arrastró detrás de él.

Una vez en Los Ángeles, el proceso se retrasó porque la fiscalía quería procesarlo como adulto, ya que en el momento del asesinato era menor de edad (16 años), razón también por la cual no es elegible para enfrentar la pena de muerte.

Alvarado se presentó en corte el año pasado dos veces y se declaró no culpable, pero el juez encontró que la fiscalía tenía suficientes pruebas para llevarlo a juicio y desde ese momento se le negó el derecho a salir bajo fianza.

Los voceros de la Fiscalía de Los Ángeles no revelaron más detalles sobre el caso o sobre el retraso en el inicio del juicio.

LAPD, Sheriff’s Take the Field for Charity

March 16, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Los Angeles Police Department Centurions’ quarterback Gustavo Viramontes breaks into the open field in Saturday’s 911 Charity Bowl at East Los Angeles College. The inaugural game matched the LAPD Centurions and the L.A. Sheriff’s Departments Grizzlies – Shields vs. Stars. The game’s proceeds were donated to the Blind Children’s Center of Los Angeles. The LAPD rolled to an impressive 34-7 victory. Photo by Mario Villegas.

MV-031217 LAPD LASD 2952c

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