Los Angeles: Today, Chief William J. Bratton of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) presented the Police Commission and general public with an executive summary of a Board of Inquiry analysis into the Department’s Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Team operations, a process that began in July 2005.
Board of Inquiry members consisted of a variety of distinguished individuals with legal and law enforcement backgrounds as follows:
Richard M. Aborn
Richard Aborn has over two decades of experience in litigation, public and government affairs, program analysis, issue advocacy and more. Aborn utilizes his experience as an attorney and years of experience in the public sector, with an emphasis on criminal justice and organizational integrity issues, to provide clients with a wide range of services.
He advises police departments and criminal justice agencies in the U.S. and Europe on a variety of issues ranging from police integrity issues and use of force policy to building more effective relationships between police department and criminal justice agencies. He was also commissioned by the Office of the Public Advocate of New York City to conduct an investigation of the New York Police Department’s (NYPD), response to civilian complaints about the department’s incidents of alleged misconduct and internal disciplinary system.
Merrick Bobb is the founding director of the Police Assessment Resource Center, a national resource center on policing and police reform, under the auspices of the Vera Institute of Justice and funded by the Ford Foundation. For over 10 years, Bobb has served as a legal staff member and then as a Deputy General Counsel of the Christopher Commission Investigation of the LAPD, General Counsel of the Kolts investigation of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and other prominent counsel positions. He also conducted an investigation of the LAPD five years after the Rodney King Incident and the Christopher Commission Report, resulting in the publication of a report in May 1996. A graduate of Dartmouth College, he received his law degree from the University of California, Berkeley.
William A. Geller
William A. Geller is the director of Geller & Associates, working with police departments, police oversight boards and community organizations to promote humane, effective policing and police community partnerships for public safety. He has specialized in understanding and controlling use of deadly force by and against police officers. This work over the past 32 years has included his position as associate director of the Police Executive Research Forum; project director of the American Bar Foundation; Special counsel for Public Safety and Internal Security to the Chicago Park District under Mayor Harold Washington and executive director of the Chicago Law Enforcement Study Group (a consortium of Chicago’s civil rights and liberties organizations). His many books include Deadly Force: What We Know; Managing Innovation in Policing; Police Leadership in America: Crisis & Opportunity; Police Violence: Understanding and Controlling Police Abuse of Force. The latter volume was commissioned and funded by the U.S. Justice Department to help map reform strategy after the Rodney King Incident.
Lieutenant Phil Hansen has served with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department for over 30 years and is currently assigned to the department’s Special Enforcement Bureau as the Special Weapons Team (SWAT) commander. He has also had nearly 13 years experience as a SWAT team leader/sergeant. Hansen has conducted tactical incident reviews for the Sheriff’s Department and tactical team capability assessments for outside agencies. As a subject matter expert in the area of law enforcement tactical operations, he has provided court testimony and served on several course development committees for the California Commission of Peace Officer Standards and Training.
Gregory M. Longworth
Gregory M. Longworth is a founding and managing partner of the civil component of Worth, Longworth & Long, LLP. The firm has served as counsel to the New York City Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association for the past nine years, representing NYPD officers in investigation and trial of departmental disciplinary cases, criminal and related matters, defense of civil rights lawsuits in federal and state courts and instruction on the use of physical and deadly force, proper preparation of reports and scope of employment issues. Longworth is a retired member of NYPD and served as a uniformed patrol officer, a sergeant in charge of patrol supervision, a special assignment lieutenant and a commander of the police commissioner’s detective squad. He also served as special counsel to the police commissioner of New York City.
Bernard Melekian assumed the position of chief of police of the Pasadena Police Department on April 30, 1996. Before that, he served with the Santa Monica Police Department6 for 23 years. He was awarded the 1978 Medal of Valor and the Medal of Courage in 1980. Chief Melekian served as the president of the Los Angeles County Police Chief’s Association from Jan. 1, 2000 to Dec. 31, 2001. His experience also includes serving on the national Board of Directors for the Police Executive Research Forum and as a senior advisor for the Police Assessment Resource Center.
One of Chief Melekian’s primary concerns revolves around issues affecting the mentally ill. In Sept. 2000, he testified before the House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary in Washington, D.C. He is the recipient of the Anne B. Kennedy Award from the Pasadena Mental Health Association and has received the Excellence in Leadership Award from Leadership Pasadena. In January 2005, he received the Lewis Hine Award for Service to Youth from the National Child Labor Committee.
Sharon K. Papa
Sharon Papa joined the LAPD in 1997 when the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Police Department merged with the LAPD. She served with the MTA for almost 17 years, with assignments that included uniformed patrol, investigations, recruitment, training and internal affairs. From 1990 to 1997, Chief Papa was the MTA’s chief of police. Her leadership, direction and vision contributed significantly to the successful merger of the MTA and the LAPD.
After joining the LAPD, Chief Papa was assigned as the assistant commanding officer of operations-Central Bureau. She served in this capacity until she became the official department spokesperson as the commanding officer of the community affairs group. Chief Papa was then selected to serve as the Department’s Ombuds Officer. In November 2002, Chief Papa was promoted to the rank of Deputy Chief and was assigned as chief of staff in the Office of the Chief of Police. On Feb. 23, 2003, Chief Papa made city history when she was sworn in as the LAPD’s first woman to be promoted to the rank of assistant chief. Chief Papa is an active member and past president of the Peace Offices Association of Los Angeles County, and is the past chair of the American Public Transit Association Police and Security Steering Committee.
Assistant Chief Linda Pierce commands the Seattle Police Department’s Homeland Security Bureau, which oversees Operations and Planning, Arson/Bomb/CBRNE, Harbor Patrol, Operational Support and Criminal Intelligence sections. Pierce began her career with the department in May 1981 and was promoted to detective sergeant in 1988. She developed the department’s first community policing unit and was promoted to lieutenant in 1995. After obtaining the rank of captain in 1999, Pierce took the lead in writing the World Trade Organization’s after-action report and commanded the Internal Investigations and Metropolitan Sections, overseeing several units that included SWAT, canine, mounted and gangs. As a member of the Washington State Bar Association since 1990, Pierce has been a certified mediator since 1996 and participated in the King County Interlocal Conflict Resolution Group as well as the Federal Executive Board of Dispute Resolution Consortium.
Eugene P. Ramirez
Eugene P. Ramirez is a founding member of the 100-plus law firm Manning & Marder, Kass, Ellrod Ramirez LLP. He graduated from Whittier College School of Law (J.D., 1987), where he was the notes and comments editor of the Law Review. Before joining the firm, he worked as a deputy district attorney for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office and as a reserve police officer for the Whittier and Monterey Park Police Departments.
Ramirez has defended SWAT teams in civil liability cases for over 15 years and is an instructor on liability issues for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Basic SWAT Schools. He teaches SWAT liability courses nationwide to both operator and command staff personnel. He is a former member of the California State Attorney General’s Blue Ribbon SWAT Committee where he was Chairperson for the Risk Management Subcommittee.
He was profiled in the April 2003 issue of California Lawyer Magazine for his work in defending SWAT teams and was honored with a 2004 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association of Los Angeles Deputy sheriffs.