Los Angeles – Earlier today, the Los Angeles Police Protective League issued a press release criticizing the Chief of Police for directing a Los Angeles police officer, currently the subject of an administrative investigation, to an administrative hearing, Board of Rights. The investigation stems from the actions of the involved officer, Michael Grasso, during a training scenario, while assigned as an instructor at the Los Angeles Police Academy.
The Department vociferously denies the outlandish claim of retaliation, by the Protective League, against Protective League President Mitzi Grasso’s husband.
In its support for the recently published Los Angeles Police Department Penalty Guide, the League cited the need for uniformity in discipline. The instant case should not be an exception. While the Department recognizes the past heroic actions by Officer Michael Grasso, prompting the Department to honor him with its highest recognition, the Medal of Valor, these past heroic acts cannot, and should not, serve as a reason to minimize the seriousness of an employee’s actions. Misconduct cannot be mitigated.
The June 11, 2001 press release, issued by the Protective League, represented that,
". . .Chief Parks has decided to disregard recommendations from his own staff officers and reopen a previously resolved disciplinary case involving Officer Michael Grasso. ." [Emphasis Added]. This statement by the League is absolutely false and misleading. Firstly, this matter, to date, has not been resolved. Secondly, during the review cycle of this ongoing investigation, the Review and Evaluation Section, Internal Affairs Group, as part of the normal investigative cycle, reviewed the investigation for accuracy and thoroughness, and to ensure that all relevant issues were appropriately addressed. The Commanding Officer of Internal Affairs Group (IAG), along with one of IAG’s Chief Investigators, noted that multiple issues had not been addressed in the initial investigation. These issues included risk management, civil liability and accountability issues. Additionally, the penalty being recommended was not consistent with the seriousness of the charges alleged against the involved officer, and clearly did not take into account the aforementioned concerns.
The case was presented by IAG to then Acting Chief of Police, now retired deputy chief, Martin Pomeroy. Deputy Chief Pomeroy, because of the disparity between the recommended penalty and the alleged misconduct, and the failure of the initial investigation to address key issues, returned the matter to the officer’s division and group of assignment for further investigation.
The investigation was subsequently presented to the Chief of Police who, because of the egregious nature of the charges alleged against Officer Grasso (as noted in the attached LAPD Form 01.61.0, a public document), directed that the matter be adjudicated before an impartial Board of Rights. It is important to note that this investigation and the accompanying issues, were identified as problematic long before the Chief of Police became involved in the review cycle. This fact certainly calls into the question, the validity of the claim of retaliation by Protective League.
The serious nature of the charges against the involved officer, prompted the Department to remove him from his lead role and primary training duty, while still allowing him to remain in his division of assignment, pending the outcome of the Board of Rights Hearing. The Board is comprised of two sworn Department employees [from the rank of captain and above] and a civilian member from the community. As with all administrative hearings, the Board will review all available evidence and, based on a preponderance of the evidence, make a determination as to the officer’s innocence or guilt on the alleged charges. It is important to note that the Chief of Police cannot impose a penalty higher than that which is recommended by a Board of Rights. Additionally, if a Board of Rights finds an officer "Not Guilty" of a charge or charges, the Chief of Police cannot change that finding.
The Los Angeles Police Department remains committed to a disciplinary process that encompasses both objectivity and uniformity. To do anything less would be a disservice to the men and women of the Los Angeles Police Department and the people of the Los Angeles community. Additionally, it would undermine the integrity to the disciplinary process.
This press release was prepared by Media Relations Section, 213-485-3586.