Ballot measure on Los Angeles police misconduct causes heated debates

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A measure that would allow police officers found guilty of misconduct to choose the body where they can appeal that decision is on the May 16 ballot.

Rev. William B. Smart stood with several community advocates outside of the Los Angeles Police Department's headquarters Tuesday, urging people to vote no on the measure also known as Amendment C.

If it passes, officers facing discipline for misconduct could opt for a board made up of three civilians to hear their appeal. The board of rights is currently made up of two command level officers and one civilian.

"Anytime guilty police get to choose what their disciplinary option is, it's bad for the community," Black Lives Matter member Melina Abdullah said.

The Los Angeles Police Protective League said the measure is about fairness. President Craig Lally said there can be a conflict because the chief offers his verdict to the board.

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck did not voice support or opposition for the measure. But he did respond to critics who say he influences the board.

"Over half the time, the command staff doesn't go along with exactly what I recommend. So if I'm influencing them, I'm not doing a very good job of it," Beck said.

Between 2011 and 2016, most cases reached a guilty verdict, but less than half of the officers the chief recommended for termination were actually fired after a board of rights hearing, according to a report by the city's chief legislative analyst.

The report also said civilians were consistently more lenient than their sworn counterparts.

Opponents said the requirements to serve as a civilian examiner are too stringent. But supporters of the measure said those requirements are needed.

Abdulla criticized elected officials for supporting the proposal.

"It was walked over to Mayor (Eric) Garcetti in, what we know, to be a backroom deal about the police union not spending money on his opposition in his reelection campaign. We also know that our mayor has ambitions to seek higher office," she said.

A spokesman for Garcetti said those accusations are as false as they are ridiculous and added the measure would increase civilian participation. L.A. City Council President Herb Wesson helped shape the measure and will hold community hearings on the subject on May 9.
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