Kevin Rector has a story in today’s L.A. Times about LAPD Inspector General Mark Smith’s intention to review the police discipline process. Rector explains:
According to Inspector General Mark Smith, his office is developing plans to begin monitoring police Board of Rights proceedings to identify “inconsistencies” in board decisions, “inequities” in the process and other ways the system might be improved to ensure “just outcomes for all stakeholders.”
As I’m sure you can imagine, the Los Angeles Police Protective League is fighting Smith’s plan. Absolute secrecy of every possible aspect of the disciplinary process is one of the LAPPL’s main issues. And if the case of Nicholas Owens is a reasonable example, I can certainly see why they don’t want the process monitored when more serious offenses are involved. Also according to Rector, the monitoring plan is not all Smith is working on:
Smith said his office is already conducting a more limited audit of the outcome of disciplinary hearings since the City Council passed an ordinance last year allowing for all-civilian panels.
Voters amended the City Charter in 2017 to allow for these all-civilian panels if the accused officer chooses to have one and the change took effect last year. Most observers expected civilian panels to be much more forgiving of officers’ misdeeds, and I assume that that’s what Smith is already looking into.
And you can look into it too, if you’re interested. I recently obtained an unprecedented set of six spreadsheets filling with information about pending and complete boards of rights, administrative appeals, civil service hearings,1 and maybe other LAPD disciplinary processes.
The data includes outcomes of both all-civilian panels and traditional panels for comparison, and just an incredible amount of other information including names of officers and civilian staff with pending hearings, the names of their representatives and the board members, and so on.
A proper analysis of this material is far beyond my personal capabilities, but its importance is indisputable. I’m publishing it today to make it available to people who have the capacity to understand and use it. All the files can be found here on Archive.org, and there are individual links to the files below, both in the original Excel format and also as PDFs for ease of reading:
★ Administrative Appeal summary outcomes (PDF) — A list of all individual administrative appeals of LAPD disciplinary decisions from 2016 through mid-2020. Includes command staff recommendations to compare with the appeal outcomes. Here is the original Excel file.
★ Use of Force board of rights summary outcomes (PDF) — Appears to be similar to the previous item but about boards of rights rather than appeals. Here is the original Excel file.
★ Directed board of rights outcomes summary (PDF) — For certain allegations boards of rights are not optional for the accused officer, but are “directed.” This is a list of all directed boards of rights since 2016 with outcomes and type of review panel, civilian or traditional. It includes summaries of the allegations and more. This is the kind of thing Smith must be looking at in his review. Here is the original Excel file.
★ Hearing status query as of August 16, 2020 — I’ve never seen anything like this record. It seems to be a list of all LAPD hearing processes active as of August 16, 2020. There are boards of rights both opted and directed, administrative appeals, and civil service hearings. The officers are named as are the attorney, the advocate, and the hearing board members. At least part of the big news here doesn’t take any high-powered explanations. The critics of the all-civilian review process must have been right about forgiveness. Every single one of the 80 pending boards of rights whose type is listed is all-civilian, which shows that the accused police believe civilians are more forgiving. They’re not likely to be wrong given that the new system has been operating for more than a year. Here is the original Excel file.