In the spirit of transparency and accountability, I have a suggestion for the Los Angeles Police Department, Police Commission president Steve Soboroff and the Office of the Inspector General.
I’ve been giving some deep thought to the numerous, and I mean numerous, investigations that are oftentimes opened up on some of these more high profile scandals involving the police department.
These are the investigations that are usually opened up miraculously after the news media reports on it and goes to the police department for some sort of comment. That comment is almost always that an investigation is being opened.
For example, about five months ago TMZ.com broke a story involving the LAPD and a song that was sung during a party hosted at the Glendale Elks Lodge by a retired officer.
That song was a parody of “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” and referred to the death of Michael Brown and included lines such as, “His brain was splatter on the floor.
That was followed up with one of the department’s public information officers telling the news media that an investigation would be opened immediately.
That was in December and according to my sources nothing was ever done by the department in terms of an investigation. Basically, the public was given lip service and as soon as the cameras and reporters moved on to the their next story it was back to business as usual.
That needs to stop.
First, it’s too damn hard to keep up with all of the “investigations” that are opened up as soon as the media comes a knocking. Second, the department owes the public more than lip service when it comes to these investigations. We call that accountability.
So I am proposing that the Police Commission add a standing agenda item to their weekly meeting that is dedicated to updating the public on the status of these investigations.
The update would include what phase the investigation is currently in and what is going on with the investigation. For example, who’s been interviewed? Are there more interviews that need to be conducted? Etc., etc. until the investigation is complete and then the Commission can report on the findings of said investigation.
Seems reasonable enough and it let’s us, the public, know that the Commission is monitoring the progression of these investigations from beginning to end.
As it stands now, investigations are opened up on an evening newscast and that’s usually the last we hear of it from the department.
Ideally, I’d like to see a section on the department’s website that provides this information as well, but we can get to that later. Getting the Police Commission on board to first at least agree to update the public regularly on these investigations would be a great start.
Sometimes I have to push the department to bring an investigation to closure like with the now unemployed Detective Frank “Foot-in-Mouth” Lyga and the ongoing Boxergate saga–but that’s not really my job now is it?
I think we can all agree that 2014 was a banner year for the opening of investigations after something was reported on in the news (or my blog) that the department claimed to know nothing about. I used to joke that the 10th floor of LAPDHQ’s opened up investigations every time they opened up their mouths to speak.
It’s time for huge dose of that transparency and accountability that Chief Beck is always force feeding and hoodwinking the public with and I think the Police Commission can and should help to make that happen. Follow up and follow through is everything and would greatly help with the community relationship policing or whatever it’s being called that Los Angeles is about to embark on.