Southern California breaking news and trends

Pension commissioner appointed to LAPD's Police Commission

LAPD

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Attorney Rafael Bernardino was appointed today to the Board of Police Commissioners. That appointment is subject to approval from the Los Angeles City Council.

An attorney who has spent a year overseeing the pensions of police officers and firefighters was appointed today to the Board of Police Commissioners.

Rafael Bernardino’s appointment is subject to approval by the Los Angeles City Council. He would replace Debra Wong Yang.

“Rafael Bernardino has demonstrated his commitment to public safety as a member of the Board of Fire and Police Pension Commissioners, and we’re looking forward to his continued service on the Police Commission,” said Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. 

“That experience on the Pension Commission, plus his decades of legal experience, will be a great asset to the Police Commission.”

Bernardino is a partner at Hobson, Bernardino & Davis, LLP. He is also an adjunct professor at Westwood College.

Last month, attorney Andrea Ordin returned to the Police Commission to replace Alan Skobin, who was moved to the Board of Fire Commissioners.

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Crime down overall in Los Angeles so far in 2012

Los Angeles Police Foundation's 10th Annual Fundraising Gala

Toby Canham/Getty Images

Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck in November, 2009.

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa are expected to have big news Wednesday regarding L.A.'s crime drop, but here's a little preview. At Tuesday's Police Commission meeting, Beck dropped some stats comparing this year with last year at this time:

  • Part I crime — meaning homicide, rape, burglary, and pretty much any kind of crime you've heard of — is down 2.5 percent;
  • Gang-related crimes are down 10 percent;
  • Shootings are down 15 percent;
  • Assaults on police officers are down 14 percent;
  • Officer-involved shootings are down 25 percent;
  • Gang homicides down 10 percent.

Hard to say why gang crime, particularly, seems to be dropping. LAPD Commander Andy Smith cited the city's gang intervention efforts as a factor, but said it's hard to know the "why" behind the ebb and flow of crime. 

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LAPD looking to reduce its high rate of traffic collisions

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Collision liabilities are hurting LAPD, and the department's looking for changes.

The City of Los Angeles paid out almost $24 million in traffic-related incidents involving LAPD officers over the past 9 years and the department is looking to drastically reduce that amount in the future. The department averages about 1,000 traffic accidents a year. 

In 2010, LAPD traffic collisions cost the city $5.8 million in liability claims. In 2011, that number was about $960,000 and so far in 2012, the city has paid out $58,0000.

Beth Corriea, LAPD's risk manager, said at the Police Commission meeting Tuesday that the police force is taking steps to inspire safety-minded driving and to insulate the department from costly lawsuits. 

One of the main things the department is working on is using so-called "black boxes, " the car's Power Control Modules to understand how an accident occurred. PCM's — chips that are installed in most major cars to regulate engine functions, that also have the capacity to store engine data — are in all police cars, but the department doesn't necessarily know how to read those chips.

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Englander: LAPD should look at OIS policy -- not stats

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A Los Angeles city councilman says police should focus on whether officer-involved shootings are within policy -- not whether statistics show they are related to attacks on cops.

A new report on officer-involved shootings and violent attacks on police officers should push the Los Angeles Police Department to look at whether shootings are in policy, rather than if the shootings and attacks are connected, a Los Angeles city councilman said today.

Councilman Mitch Englander, chair of the Public Safety Committee, was responding to the Police Commission’s report that an increase in use-of-force cases was not related to an increase in attacks on cops. Police Chief Charlie Beck has repeatedly said the two are intertwined. 

“They’re both measuring it and looking at it two very different ways,” Englander said in an interview with KPCC.

“The fact that crime is down overall, so our officers are getting into violent situations more rapidly … they’re confronting these individuals on a more regular basis and these individuals are pulling weapons,” Englander said.

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Report: Attacks on LAPD not related to officers' use of force

Los Angeles Police Foundation's 10th Annual Fundraising Gala

Toby Canham/Getty Images

Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck poses for a picture at the Los Angeles Police Foundation's 10th annual fundraising gala held at the new LAPD Headquarters on November 7, 2009.

An increase in the number of attacks on Los Angeles police officers is not related to an increase in officer-involved shootings, despite the chief of police’s comments to the contrary, according to a report from the Police Commission’s inspector general.

In 2011, there were 193 violent attacks on Los Angeles police officers – a 22 percent increase over the previous year, according to Inspector General Alexander Bustamante’s report. However, those attacks occurred during 106 incidents, which represents just a 6 percent increase from 2010.

When police officers shoot at a suspect, the Los Angeles Police Department counts that as one officer-involved shooting, regardless of the number of officers at the scene. However, when a suspect attacks, LAPD calculates that on a per-victim rate. 

“As such, there does not appear to be a clear correlation between the data regarding OIS shooting incidents and the data regarding incidents involving assaults on officers,” Bustamante wrote in his report.

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