Chief of Police Listens to Rank and File – Completes Third Phase of Disciplinary System Revamp

November 1, 2001

Los Angeles- Pursuant to recommendations made by the Independent Christopher Commission, the Department overhauled its disciplinary system in 1998. Subsequently, modifications to the system were made in 2000. In October 2000, following the release of the UCLA/USC Study, "The Strain of Change: Voices of Los Angeles Police Officers", Chief of Police Bernard C. Parks reiterated the Department’s commitment to continue review of the disciplinary system, while ensuring accomplishment of the intended goal of providing a vehicle for members of the public to voice their concerns or complaints about our performance. At that time, Chief Parks advised, "We [the LAPD] are constantly evaluating our procedures in an effort to ensure that we are appropriately serving our community while at the same time, appropriately manage the Department and create an aesthetic and positive work atmosphere for our employees."
Based on the concerns expressed by officers, the Department effected the second round of modifications to the disciplinary process, when it relaxed the guidelines pertinent to employee transfers, and facilitated investigations for candidates in the promotional process, even when those persons were the subjects of pending personnel complaints.
In March of 2001, the Department effected the third phase of its commitment in the area of discipline, when it formalized and implemented the Los Angeles Police Department Penalty Guide. This occurred as a result of the joint efforts between the Department and the Los Angeles Police Protective League. The penalty guide was created using historical record of penalties received by sworn members of the Department for various offenses, and reminds all Department personnel of the expected standards of conduct and the consequences should those expectations not be met, without regard to rank, ethnic background, race, gender or religion.
Effective Wednesday, November 7, 2001, the Department will publish and implement the fourth-phase modification to the disciplinary system. This change, articulated in the form of Special Order No. 36, dated October 29, 2001, recognizes that the ability of the police to secure and maintain public respect and cooperation is tied directly to the public’s confidence that their complaints will be fairly and appropriately addressed. Since the revision of the Department’s complaint-reporting procedures in 1998, the number of formal personnel complaints tripled, significantly lengthening the time needed to bring a complaint to resolution and provide feedback to the public.
This new modification will significantly streamline the recordation, investigation and adjudication of complaints, enabling them to be resolved more quickly without jeopardizing the quality of investigations. This new procedure will benefit both the public and Department personnel, in that it will result in a more expeditious resolution of matters.
The fifth phase of improving the Department’s disciplinary process began in January 2001 when the Chief of Police directed each commanding officer to include in their Area/Divisional Annual Work Plan goals, specific actions they would take to address employee behavior, with the goal of reducing complaints.
An objective review of personnel complaints against sworn personnel, dating back to 1997, indicated that 60 to 70 percent of all complaints received/initiated are on issues directly under the control of our personnel. Such issues include personnel: failing to qualify; failing to appear at hearings after being properly subpoenaed; involvement in preventable traffic collisions, discourtesy, neglect of duty and off-duty related incidents. This is to be accomplished through, among other things, the continuous leadership training and education of all personnel. This fifth phase will be routinely evaluated by bureau commanding officers during mid-year and annual reviews, FASTRAC meetings and routine audits and evaluations.
The discipline system is one of the most significant management responsibilities and it requires a balance of engendering community confidence, while ensuring fairness to Department personnel. The three major internal goals of the discipline system are to:
(a) Modify the offending employee’s behavior; (b) Set expectations for other employees; and (c) Assure the public that the Department strives to maintain the public’s trust by holding employees accountable. The Department has taken a measured and directed approach, since January 1998, to strike that balance. We are committed to continuous improvement by listening to our employees, conducting evaluations and audits of existing systems, and implementing new procedures when necessary.
For further information regarding this release, please contact Media Relations Section at 213-485-3586.
This press release was prepared by Lieutenant Horace Frank, Officer in Charge, Media Relations Section.