Southern California breaking news and trends

Attorney confirmed to LA's Police Commission

Erika Aguilar/KPCC

The nomination of an attorney who previously served on the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners was unanimously approved the Police Commission

Attorney Rafael Bernardino was appointed to the Board of Police Commissioners Friday by the Los Angeles City Council.

Bernardino previously served on the Board of Fire and Police Pension Commission. During his confirmation hearing, Bernardino expressed concern about the city’s worker compensation claims.

High profile cases of alleged police misconduct, such as the use of force cases involving Alesia Thomas and Michelle Jordan, are also a financial problem for the city, Bernardino said.

“I see it as — that’s $400,000 in legal fees and that’s a potential $2 million case,” he said. “When I look at the City of Los Angeles, made up of working men and women, especially in these difficult times — you know, $2.5 million for 10 seconds of bad judgment is a cost benefit that we cannot afford.”

Bernardino replaces former commissioner Debra Wong Yang. The Police Commission is the five-member civilian board that oversees the Los Angeles Police Department. 


Police Commission approves changes to counterterrorism program


Andres Aguila/KPCC

LAPD says it's continuing to work with community groups to refine controversial counterterrorism program.

The Police Commission codified changes to a counterterrorism program known as "Suspicious Activity Reporting" (SAR) Tuesday.

Civil liberties advocates had been in negotiations with LAPD for months over the program, which enables local law enforcement to act on reports of activities that may not be obviously criminal if they believe information-gathering could serve national security.

It also shares gathered information with federal and state agencies, creating a database of people, events and activities that law enforcement could potentially use to identify trends and patterns in their quest to stifle terrorism.

SAR was developed in Los Angeles as a way to help prevent terrorist attacks, and has been replicated nationally in a number of cities. 

The problem with the program, civil liberties advocates have said, is that innocuous activities — like taking pictures of an airplane, pointing binoculars at a bridge or praying in a parking lot — can look suspicious. And, they point out, when it comes to Muslim Americans, officers and civilians alike may be more likely to find normal behavior suspect.


Pension commissioner appointed to LAPD's Police Commission


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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.


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.


Public Safety approves attorney to LAPD's Police Commission

Los Angeles Police Department

Eric E Johnson/Flickr/Creative Commons

Attorney Andrea Ordin said she will focus on risk management when she returns as a member of the Police Commission.

When a longtime attorney returns as a member of the Los Angeles Police Commission, one of her focuses will be on improving risk management and accountability, she said today.  

The Public Safety Committee unanimously confirmed Andrea Ordin’s appointment to the civilian oversight panel. Her nomination was forwarded to the Los Angeles City Council. 

During her confirmation hearing, Ordin was questioned by Councilman Mitch Englander about the city’s ability to hold employees responsible for things like traffic collisions. Ordin agreed risk management is an ongoing issue.  

“There’s two sides to the risk management issue,” she said. “One is for the leadership to provide the tools to the officers or to the sanitation workers or whatever employee to be able to do his or her job with skill and care.  That has to be done all the time – it’s not just one training.