LAPD community meetings on use of force to be held after recent force cases

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At a police community meeting Tuesday evening, the LAPD Valley Bureau chief told Van Nuys residents that the department is scheduling 21 community meetings in the various LAPD police divisions to talk to people about how the department investigates use of force cases and the review process.

“That’s important because we have to make sure that we maintain the good will that we earned over the course of time,” said Deputy Chief Jorge Villegas of the Valley Bureau.

There’s no official schedule yet but Villegas said the schedule would be shared with the department’s public relations team soon.

The announcement comes days after LAPD police chief Charlie Beck elected to downgrade the Foothill division commander, Capt. III Joseph Hiltner saying he believed Hiltner was “severely deficient in his response” to a recent use of force incident involving two officers who threw a woman to the ground twice during a traffic stop.

Since then, NBC Los Angeles has reported that Capt. Hiltner has filed a employment harassment complaint against police chief Charlie Beck. According to NBC, Assistant Chief Earl Paysinger and Deputy Chief Jorge Villegas are also named in the complaint, which is “the first step in the process of filing a lawsuit.”

LAPD is also investigating two other serious police use of force cases. In one case, a bystander captured cell phone video of an officer punching a skateboarder on the ground during an arrest in Venice. The most recent police incident under investigation concerns a group of officers who used force on a woman who later died in police custody.

“I think it’s really important that the police be transparent,” said Arlene Sameck, who attended the Tuesday’s regular meeting held by the Mid-Valley Community Police Council. “I think the police department has made a really strong effort to cooperate with citizens and to be open and transparent.”

Sameck said she’s concerned about the recent use of force incidents but believe there’s more to the story than what’s reported in the news.

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