Southern California breaking news and trends

LAPD outlines its budget priorities


Andres Aguila/KPCC

The Los Angeles Police Department issued its budgetary wish list Tuesday.

Replacing broken down patrol cars, installing systemwide dashboard cameras, and buying new computers are at the top of the Los Angeles Police Department's budgetary wish list in the next fiscal year.

That is, after it pays the obligatory $1.2 billion in salaries for its police officers and civilian personnel—93 percent of the department's proposed budget for 2013-2014. The L. A. Police Commission approved the initial budget report Tuesday, asking for $1,338,369,551.

"Even though it's a large budget, it's lean and mean," Commissioner John Mack said. 

Although it will likely become leaner as the proposal makes its way through months of scrutiny and competes with other agencies' budgets, the commission outlines some items it will fight for -  notably, continuing the rollout of in-car video systems to West Bureau at an estimated cost of $8 million.


LAPD may change the way it deals with racial profiling complaints


Andres Aguila/KPCC

The Police Commission is expected to approve changes to the way the department handles racial profiling complaints.

The Los Angeles Police Commission will take up a proposal Tuesday to change the way the department handles accusations of racial profiling. That issue continues to plague police departments around the country.

Go back a decade, and the LAPD had little idea how to handle racial profiling – now called "biased policing" – to encompass other sorts of discrimination complaints.

"Some people said, 'How can you get into an officer's mind?,'" said Commander Richard Webb, head of the Internal Affairs Group at LAPD, which now investigates such complaints. 

Webb says the department had no standard procedure for figuring out whether an officer, say, stopped a car because the driver was a certain race. The temptation was to look at statistics, but the expertise wasn't there, and there was no national consensus on how to even use such statistics.

"So what we started looking at was the constitutional implications of that stop," Webb says. "For example, was the stop legitimate, what were the officer's actions after the stop, did they search people."


Police looking for 'Chucky' in connection with Echo Park murder


Andres Aguila/KPCC

LAPD detectives are looking for "Chucky" for questioning in an Echo Park murder.

A shooting in broad daylight in Echo Park has police looking for witnesses. LAPD Officer Karen Rayner said detectives have a suspect, but they don't know his real name.

33-year-old Ivan Meza Pedroza was standing with a friend on the 2100 block of West Bellevue Ave. when a third man, an acquaintance known as "Chucky," approached. The first friend wandered away, but apparently, returned when he heard talking and then gunshots. The friend found Pedroza had rolled to the bottom of a hill, unconscious.

When Fire Department personnel arrived, Pedroza was pronounced dead. Police believe "Chucky" may have shot Pedroza with a handgun, but don't know of any motive.

They're also looking for anyone who could better identify Chucky or provide any information on the murder.


Ask a lawyer: Is chalking illegal?

Eric Zassenhaus/KPCC

Los Angeles police officers and Occupy LA protesters clashed at ArtWalk on July 12, leading to 17 arrests and four injuries.

On July 12, 17 people were arrested during a scuffle between protesters and police at Dowtown L.A.'s ArtWalk. The protest spurred from a recent police crackdown on chalking by members of the Occupy L.A. movement outside the offices of the Central City Association at Hope St. and Wilshire Blvd.

At this week's meeting of L.A.'s Police Commission, a core group of Occupiers showed up to lodge complaints against the crackdown — what they described as police acting aggressively towards an innocuous and widespread activity, writing with sidewalk chalk. Several speakers pointed out that kids in the city often chalk sidewalks, and adults, too.

The first big question is if, in fact, chalking is illegal. UCLA Law Professor Eugene Volokh, who specializes in the First Amendment, says that according to California law, it is.


Occupy LA asks for an investigation into ArtWalk arrests

Occupy L.A.

Rina Palta / KPCC

Members of Occupy L.A. gather outside the Police Administration Building in Downtown L.A. after addressing the Police Commission.

A core group of Occupy L.A. members visited the Los Angeles Police Commission Tuesday to express discontent with police actions at last Thurday's ArtWalk, where 17 were arrested on charges ranging from vandalism to assault on a police officer.

Accounts of what exactly happened that night vary: police say members of Occupy L.A., protesting the recent crackdown on chalking private property at Hope St. and Wilshire Blvd, refused to clear a busy sidewalk at ArtWalk, forcing pedestrians into the street. When chalkers repeatedly refused to clear the area after numerous warnings, police say, they moved in to make arrests and were pelted with bottles and rocks. Police called for backup, including less lethal crowd dispersal weapons like rubber bullets, and officers and ArtWalkers alike were wounded in the melee.