On a date in or around late 2017, Director Josh Rubenstein greeted the officers in Media Relations Division’s open office space as “ladies, gents, and officers” and, immediately thereafter, approached the Online Unit office and stated, “How are you boys?” At the time, only Plaintiff and Police Officer III Lyle Knight were present in the Online Unit office. Both Plaintiff and Officer Knight are African-American. Within approximately one week, Rubenstein again asked Plaintiff and Officer Knight, “How are you boys?” Just days later, Rubenstein addressed Plaintiff and Officer Knight as “boys” for a third time. This time, however, Rubenstein did so in a snide and mocking tone of voice. Moreover, Rubenstein said “boys” so loudly that even Sgt. Preciado, who was sitting both outside of and a significant distance away from the Online Unit office, heard it.
The Los Angeles Police Department gets sued. It gets sued a lot. And it’s not just their civilian victims suing them. It turns out that an organization dedicated to violence, secrecy, machismo, and the defense of capital is, who’d have thought, not a very nice place to work. Which is why their own employees sue the LAPD a lot also.
Like for instance just last year LAPD Media Relations Officer Frank Preciado sued, alleging that his supervisor Josh Rubenstein1 didn’t allow Preciado and others to speak Spanish in the office. Preciado also alleged that Rubenstein banned Media Relations employees from tuning in to Spanish Language TV on the Department’s monitors.
The situation is not only discriminatory according to Preciado but, given that his official duties include speaking to Spanish language media folks, it also prevents him from doing his job properly. Rubenstein is LAPD’s most visible Anglophone public information officer. The dude is everywhere and he’s always got time for the media. Unless, I guess, they’re working in Spanish.
So I’m predicting that the report, when it finally comes out, will be tedious and fundamentally dishonest. But none of that means that the report creation process isn’t interesting. In fact it’s very interesting, as I learned recently when I obtained a few records relating to the process. These documents have to do with evidence requested by the NPF from both LAPD and the Police Commission, and they’re interesting to me for at least two reasons.
In July 2020 the Los Angeles Police Commission announced the formation of an Advisory Committee on Building Trust and Equity. Here’s the Commission’s press release on it, which summarizes the Committee’s charge:
The Advisory Committee is expected to focus its work on a review of discipline and accountability; assessing current policing reform proposals being considered throughout the country; evaluating the implementation of past LAPD reform proposals; examining the LAPD’s recruitment, hiring, retention and training process; and analyzing data collection and retention practices.
The point of the meetings was ostensibly to gather information related to the Committee’s main charge, which is to conduct “a comprehensive review of LAPD policies and procedures, and deliver recommendations for additional reforms.” The Committee’s recommendations are expected by the end of 2020.
I didn’t pay much attention to these town hall things while they were happening but then I obtained a copy of an appalling LAPPL powerpoint file which turned out to be from that appalling organization’s presentation at the October 1st Town Hall. This crazy slide deck made me wonder what the heck had gone on in that meeting.4
I don’t know what’s up with all that, but I do know that also on October 29, whether or not related to the police attack on Ray, LAPD Public Information Officer Josh Rubenstein sent an email to LAPD’s most senior leaders listing “the many communications initiatives” that Rubenstein and his office would be working on over the next week.
Synopsis: LAPD officer Garvin sued the City because his superior officer Meek, who had a “romantic relationship” with another one of her subordinates, conspired with Deputy Chief Frank to get him demoted and transferred. Meek solicited damaging info from Garvin’s subordinates and used “completely fabricated” complaints against him to accomplish this goal. In a confidential report to LA City Council Deputy City Attorney Marianne Fratianne recommended that the City settle for $700K because Meek was not a credible witness but Garvin was.
From a long and lurid list of LAPD transgressions Fratianne chose only to recommend that the City avoid future liability by having LAPD supervisors think carefully about using the technical loophole in the complaint resolution process that allowed Meek to demote Garvin on the basis of fabricated complaints. This innocuous choice suggests that the City Attorney’s office is unwilling to recommend effective LAPD reforms to City Council even when they can recommend in secret and even when such reforms would be purely internal.
I sent Personnel a public records act request in early October 2019 and, despite four followups, they haven’t responded yet. So I don’t have news on the Breitbart thing yet but the other day I got some records relating to other aspects of LAPD hiring:
⦿ Public Safety Division Presentation — A 41 slide August 2020 presentation to a Police Commission committee about hiring practices. This has essential information about what kinds of ads they run, where they run them, and so on.
On October 10, 2020, LAPD Chief Michel Moore sent an email to a bunch of police luminaries with the subject line CM Marqueece Harris-Dawson Tweet – Ridiculous. The outline is in the headline and the full text is below. But first, is anyone still wondering who actually runs this City?
But late last year they settled a major CPRA case with the ACLU and part of the agreement required the Department to adopt a policy stating explicitly that LAPD employees, both sworn and nonsworn, were subject to discipline for willful violations of the law. And since they will no longer produce records in response to my requests I’ve been using the time I would have spent reviewing and writing about their records to file complaints against them instead.
Also as usual they produced emails and their attachments as huge, unwieldy, non-text-searchable PDFs with highly degraded quality even though I asked them for MBOX files and the law requires them to produce MBOX files.2 They also produced attachments this way. You can see from the image what this process does to image files3 but imagine how incredibly useless it makes a spreadsheet! The CPRA’s requirement, found at §6253.9, is clear:
6253.9. (a) Unless otherwise prohibited by law, any agency that has information that constitutes an identifiable public record not exempt from disclosure pursuant to this chapter that is in an electronic format shall make that information available in an electronic format when requested by any person and, when applicable, shall comply with the following:
(1) The agency shall make the information available in any electronic format in which it holds the information.
(2) Each agency shall provide a copy of an electronic record in the format requested if the requested format is one that has been used by the agency to create copies for its own use or for provision to other agencies. The cost of duplication shall be limited to the direct cost of producing a copy of a record in an electronic format.
They refuse to do it, though, as they have been refusing since at least 2014. They change their reasons all the time, often in response to my pointing out that they’re lying about their capabilities. These days they’re not denying that they can produce MBOX files because everyone knows by now that they can do it even they used to say explicitly that it was impossible.4 Their current argument, also a lie, is that it’s impossible to redact MBOXes, so they can only produce as PDFs, which they can redact.