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.
See, when I first started investigating the matter, Richard Tefank told me that in his 17 years of experience, no one had ever submitted a complaint to the Commission about BID security. This, even though the Commission rules on private patrol operators clearly allow for such complaints. Also, this seems to have been done at least once, in 1999.3
But now that I submitted a complaint, the Police Commission assigned an investigator to look into it, and they came to a conclusion about the complaint, it seems that it’s established that BID security is subject to Police Commission oversight, and that they will investigate complaints. This must be publicized, and will provide what must be a more accessible4 avenue for reining in the abuses of BID security guards. This will no doubt prove useful to our friends in Venice, now that Mike Bonin’s accursed nightmare has come true. To begin the publicity, I have set up a page with instructions on how to complain about BID security. This will no doubt have some Google juice, as this blog is already among the top hits in a Google search for BID Patrol (even without quotation marks!) At least as of today we are the top three hits in a Google search for BID Patrol complaint. So this ought to get the word out!
And let us not underestimate the effect on their behavior that BID security’s knowing that they are subject to oversight will have. We have already seen how the Andrews International BID Patrol cut its arrest rate by an outrageous amount merely because I was watching them. If the cops are watching them too, I’m guessing they’ll be even more circumspect, which is another huge victory.
Transcription of Tefank’s letter:
On September 13, 2016 you sent via electronic mail a request for the Board of Police Commissioners to investigate an incident which occurred on November 23, 2015 involving private security personnel contracted to the Hollywood Business Improvement District [sic] (BID). This incident involved the arrest of Mr. Leon Jones by BID Private Security personnel in which you allege that the force utilized by the private security personnel was not reasonable.
I assigned this investigation to Commission Investigation Division to investigate this matter to determine if there were any violations of law by the private security personnel. The conclusion of the investigation determined that no violations of law occurred or other improper behavior on the part of the private security personnel or Los Angeles Police Department police officers.
Thank you for bringing this matter to my attention. This concludes the matter and no further action will be taken.
Very truly yours,
RICHARD M. TEFANK, Executive Director
Board of Police Commissioners
cc: Ms. Kerry Morrison
Image of Richard Tefank is a public record.