Tag Archives: Richard Tefank

Police Commission Investigation Into Excessive Force Allegation Against BID Patrol Concludes That “No Violations Of Law Occurred Or Other Improper Behavior” But Crucial Precedent Is Set Nevertheless

Richard Tefank, Executive Director of the LA Police Commission.
Here’s the story so far: In November 2015 the BID Patrol attacked a homeless man while in the process of arresting him. It really looks like excessive force, so, at the direction of Richard Tefank, Executive Director of the Police Commission, in September I submitted a complaint to him and also to Kerry Morrison.1 As I reported two months ago, the Police Commission agreed to investigate my complaint, and assigned it to Officer Ernesto Vicencio.

Well, just yesterday I received a letter from Richard Tefank informing me that the investigation was complete and that they had found no wrongdoing on anyone’s part.2 This is disappointing, to be sure, because, as would all sane, right-thinking individuals, I would like to see the BID Patrol jailed, fined, and shut down, and it seems really, really, really clear that those BID Patrollies are breaking the law. However, it’s not that disappointing, because a clear and transcendently important precedent has been set, which will have lasting consequences for the future of BIDs in our City.
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VICTORY!! All Los Angeles BID Security Patrols To Register With Police Commission Per City Attorney, BID Patrol Excessive Force Complaint Under Investigation By LAPD; Direct Result of MK.Org Reporting!

Earlier this afternoon I spoke with Ernesto Vicencio, who is an LAPD investigator assigned to the Police Commission. He told me that the City Attorney either has sent or will soon send a letter to all Los Angeles Business Improvement Districts informing them that their security patrols are required to register with the Los Angeles Police Commission per LAMC 52.34.

This incredibly welcome development is a direct result of my discovery in the Summer of 2016 that it was likely that BID security registration had inadvertently ceased in 2000 due to an oversight. I don’t believe I mentioned it at the time, but in addition to writing a number of posts on the subject, I also sent a petition to the Police Commission asking them to look into the matter and to conclude that BID security ought in fact to register with them.

According to Officer Vicencio the City Attorney has decided to implement this request.1 This development is hugely important, not least because LAMC 52.34 requires private patrol services to have a procedure for investigating citizen complaints. It also grants the Police Commission a great deal of regulatory power over the activities of security patrols who are required to register.

Which brings us to the second stunning and absolutely unexpected thing that Officer Vicencio told me. You may recall that I recently reported on what seemed like a clear use of excessive force by members of the Andrews International Hollywood BID Patrol. Well, about three weeks ago I submitted a report on this matter to Kerry Morrison of the HPOA and also to the Police Commission, as instructed by the Commission’s executive director, Richard Tefank.

Today Vicencio told me that he is handling this matter. He has tried, without success so far, to locate the victim, and he is going to investigate further. Obviously there’s no guarantee that any of these officers will suffer any consequences,2 but again, the larger implications of the fact that they’re being investigated by the City are huge. This means that the Police Commission agrees that they have jurisdiction over citizen complaints against BID security. This changes everything.
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Further Speculation on Why BID Patrols Aren’t Registered with the Los Angeles Police Commission

This is not a police officer, it's unregistered-with-the-police-commission BID Patrol officer M. Gomez (Badge #148) looking a lot like a police officer.
This is not a police officer, it’s unregistered-with-the-police-commission BID Patrol officer M. Gomez (Badge #148) looking a lot like a police officer.
Recently I discovered that BID security contractors weren’t registered with the LA Police Commission and that no one seemed to know why. Further investigation suggested that perhaps registration had just fallen through the cracks. Well, after rereading the material from the Council file and requesting and receiving the Police Commission minutes from April 25, 2000, I noticed that there was at least one possibly significant difference in the April 25, 2000 version of LAMC 52.34 that the Commission sent over to the Council on April 27 as compared to the version that the City Attorney sent to the Council on March 31 and that it’s possible to make some kind of a case that this difference answers the BID security question. It’s not a likely case, though. Read on for details on both the potential argument and some potential objections to it.
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Newly Obtained Documents Suggest A Tentative Hypothesis on Why BID Patrols Aren’t Registered with the Los Angeles Police Commission and Why They Ought to Be

Joseph Gunn, executive director of the Los Angeles Police Commission in 1999.
Joseph Gunn, executive director of the Los Angeles Police Commission in 1999.
In the City of Los Angeles, private security patrols that operate on the public streets or sidewalks are required by LAMC 52.34 to register with the Police Commission and to satisfy a number of other requirements. I discovered a couple weeks ago that no BID Patrols are registered (and they routinely violate a number of the other requirements). In that same post I traced the issue back to Council File 99-0355. Part of the approved motion that initiated that file was this:

FURTHER MOVE that the City Ccl request the Police Commission to cease their enforcement against the City’s Downtown Center BID and its private patrol service, and any other BIDs until this matter has been reviewed by the City Ccl.

This at least seems to explain a temporary pause in enforcement, although not a policy-based reason never to enforce the registration requirement and the other regulations.

Furthermore, even a trip to the City Archives to copy the whole file left me lacking a definitive answer to the question of why no BID security provider was registered with the Police Commission. Also, I reported last week that no one in the City, either at the Police Commission or elsewhere, seemed to have a firm idea about why this was.

100 W. First Street.  And isn't this a lovely visual metaphor for the City government of Los Angeles?
100 W. First Street. And isn’t this a lovely visual metaphor for the City government of Los Angeles?

Well, last week the incredibly helpful Richard Tefank pulled a bunch of old Police Commission minutes out of storage for me and last Thursday I went over to 100 W. First Street to take a look at them. Most of the material was also in the Council file, but there were a couple new items that, while they don’t explain dispositively what happened, they suggest a likely hypothesis. Also, if this hypothesis is correct, it’s pretty clear that BID Patrols really ought to be registered and, furthermore, that the Police Commission has the right to investigate and regulate them.
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Update on the Question of Why BID Security Patrols Aren’t Registered with the Los Angeles Police Commission

Richard Tefank, Executive Director of the LA Police Commission.
Richard Tefank, Executive Director of the LA Police Commission.
I have some new information about, although not an answer to, the question, which I wrote about last week, of why BID security patrols aren’t registered with the Los Angeles Police Commission even though LAMC 52.34 would seem to require registration. If this is the first time you’re hearing about this, you should read that post first for background.

First of all, I exchanged a number of emails with William Jones, a senior management analyst with the LAPD permit processing section. He directed me to Officer Vicencio in the Police Commission’s Enforcement section. Vicencio was on vacation last week, but I finally got a chance to speak to him on the phone. He told me that BID Patrols were exempt from the LAMC 52.34 requirement because state law exempted them. He did not know what section of state law exempted them. He also told me that “about fifteen years ago” the City Attorney issued an opinion stating that BID Patrols were not subject to the registration requirement. He said that any private security firm that was under contract to the City or had an MOU with the City was not required to register.
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Why Aren’t BID Security Patrols Registered with the Los Angeles Police Commission?

Any badge, insignia, patch or uniform used or worn by any employee, officer, member or associate of a private patrol service, while on duty for said patrol service, shall be in compliance with State law.  Any such badge, insignia, patch or uniform shall not be of such a design as to be mistaken for an official badge, insignia or uniform worn by a law enforcement officer of the City of Los Angeles or any other law enforcement agency with jurisdiction in the City. LAMC 52.34(d)(1)
Any badge, insignia, patch or uniform used or worn by any employee, officer, member or associate of a private patrol service, while on duty for said patrol service, shall be in compliance with State law. Any such badge, insignia, patch or uniform shall not be of such a design as to be mistaken for an official badge, insignia or uniform worn by a law enforcement officer of the City of Los Angeles or any other law enforcement agency with jurisdiction in the City. LAMC 52.34(d)(1)
Recently I was reading the Los Angeles Municipal Code1 and came across LAMC 52.34, which discusses “private patrol services” and their employees, “street patrol officers.” The gist of it seems to be2 that private patrol service operators must register with the Police Commission, and also prove that their employees’ uniforms and badges don’t look too much like real police uniforms and badges. They’re also required to have a complaint process and submit lists of employees and some other things too.

Well, as you can see from the photo above, and from innumerable other photos and videos I’ve obtained from the Hollywood BID Patrol, there is a real problem with BID Patrol officers looking like LAPD. Their uniforms are the same color, their badges are the same shape and color, and so on. Also, they’re famous for not having a complaint process, or at least not one that anyone can discover easily. The Andrews International BID Patrol isn’t the only one with this problem, either. The Media District‘s security vendor, Universal Protection Service, doesn’t seem to have one either. In fact, it was UPS Captain John Irigoyen‘s refusal to accept a complaint about two of his officers that inspired the establishment of this blog. The A/I BID Patrol is as guilty of this lapse as anyone.

Richard Tefank, Executive Director of the LA Police Commission.
Richard Tefank, Executive Director of the LA Police Commission.

The fact that private patrol operators were required to file actual documents with a city agency means that copies would be available! So I fired off some public records requests to Richard Tefank, Executive Director of the Police Commission. He answered right away and told me they’d get right on it. What a relief to discover that Police Commission CPRA requests don’t have to go through the LAPD Discovery Section, which is so notoriously slow to respond that the City of LA has had to pay tens of thousands of dollars in court-imposed fines due to their tardiness. Mr. Tefank handed me off to an officer in the permits section, and he told me that none of the three BID security contractors I asked about; Andrews International, Universal Protection, and Streetplus3 were registered. How could this be, I wondered, given what seems like the plain language of the statute? The story turns out to be immensely complicated, and with lots of new documents.
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