Discretion of enforcement at issue in police union suit against LAPD impound policy

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The city’s new car impoundment policy, which was seen as a compromise between the LAPD and immigrant advocacy groups, is facing a legal challenge from the officers charged with its enforcement.

The new policy reduces the period that cars can be impounded from the state-mandated 30 days to just one day, something the Los Angeles Police Protective League is calling "problematic."

The union says the new policy contradicts state law, giving LAPD Chief Charlie Beck license to give his officers conflicting orders.

“The Chief is now affording them discretion and I think that’s the area that conflicts with the state law," said Tyler Izen, president of the L.A. Police Protective League. "The state law is pretty clear: if you’re an unlicensed driver, and you’re driving a vehicle, your car will be impounded and held for 30 days.”

According to Izen, the new law also leaves police officers subject to potential liability if a car released under the shorter one-day policy is involved in an accident that causes injury or death.

"We are seeking a judge to affectively tell us how we can both follow state law and follow department policy and not have them conflict," Izen concluded.

But immigration advocates who had been pushing for the change in the impoundment policy say the 30-day rule unfairly targeted working-class undocumented immigrants who cannot, by law, obtain a driver’s license.

Carlos Montes is with the Southern California Immigration Coalition.

“I think that the Police Protective League is just targeting undocumented immigrants and their priority is the revenues that are generated by the impoundment of cars, by the official police garage."

The L.A. Police Protective League insists its decision to take legal action isn’t a position on immigration policy, but rather, on police protection.

The new impoundment rules are set to go into effect this Sunday.

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