NOTE: This post is about Police Commission Calendars from 2013 through 2020, and they’re here on Archive.Org.
The Los Angeles Police Commission theoretically oversees the Los Angeles Police Department via powers enumerated in the City Charter at §570 et seq. Although these powers are pretty broad, e.g. they include the power to recommend that the Chief be fired subject to approval of Council, the Commission doesn’t do much with them at all, as you surely know if you’ve ever attended one of their meetings. They act more like collegial collaborators with the police than any respectable oversight body ought to do.
You’ll have seen that the only people in the room who’ve spent any time at all thinking about police oversight are members of the public there to give comment. The Commission itself is overly friendly with the police and exceedingly hostile towards any members of the public who are not also overly friendly with the police. And it turns out that this impression of unseemly collaboration between overseers and overseen is also accurate outside public view.
The Commissioners have regular private meetings with the Chief and other members of LAPD’s command staff, sometimes over a meal. For instance on January 17, 2018 Steve Soboroff and another person had lunch with Beck at YXTA, a gentrification bar on Skid Row which apparently has good carne asada. Soboroff and Beck met regularly before Beck retired, often at YXTA but sometimes at Langer’s and elsewhere. On March 6, 2018 Soboroff had breakfast with Dominic Choi at the Pacific Dining Car.
Since Beck’s departure, Commissioners meet regularly with Moore, although apparently not at ritzy restaurants. Also, they meet with him alone or in a pair. I assume this is to avoid the Brown Act violations that would be created by a majority of the Commissioners meeting in private to discuss public business. But another danger is that Moore acts as the hub of a serial meeting, also a Brown Act violation. I don’t have proof1 that this is happening, but it looks likely.
They attend LAPD social events like Police Academy graduations and promotion or retirement parties. E.g. on October 9, 2019 Commission President Eileen Decker went to a party celebrating Don Graham‘s promotion to Commander. In April 2018 Homeland Security gave some kind of award to Beck and Commissioners attended the reception at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills and in June 2018 to a combination birthday/retirement party for Beck.
They attend meetings of Community Police Advisory Boards around the City. And so on. They have private briefings on exceedingly controversial matters, such as facial recognition. At least one member of the Commission met with retired and discredited LAPD data guru Sean Malinowski in January 2018 to be briefed on facial recognition. This, by the way, even though LAPD has consistently denied even using facial recognition until a deft CPRA request revealed their lies. But not a word from the Commission to contradict the lies. Not an order telling them to stop lying.
There is a Police Commission breakfast on most of these calendars. Apparently they have a regular breakfast meeting scheduled on Tuesdays at 8:00 AM, which is 90 minutes before their regular public meeting time. Mostly attendees aren’t listed.2 And as I mentioned above, Commissioners have frequent ex parte private meetings with Michel Moore and other high-ranking LAPD officers.
So e.g. in 2019 Commission President Steve Soboroff met with Moore after PC meetings regularly. In 2020 new President Eileen Decker continued the tradition. Other Commissioners met with Robert Arcos, with whom Commissioner Sandra Figueroa-Villa had breakfast on May 3, 2019. Commissioners also met ex parte with Martin Baeza, Dominic Choi, Bea Girmala, Horace Frank, and so on.
Such meetings also don’t seem consistent with the Commission’s role as LAPD overseer. If Commissioners need information from LAPD brass they ought to get it via testimony at public meetings. If these meetings are about LAPD’s work and one Commissioner discusses the meeting with two others it’s a Brown Act violation. If none of this happens, if they’re just hanging out shooting the shit, they ought to stop it because it looks very bad.
It’s hard for me to understand how members of a nominal oversight commission hope even to appear effective if they regularly socialize and meet privately with the brass at bars and restaurants, attend their parties and ceremonies, and so on. I would prefer a show of neutrality given that the LAPD needs oversight because it’s an outlaw organization, not because they’re genial colleagues.
I learned this unseemly information from a bunch of Commission calendars from 2013 through 2020 that I recently obtained from Commission Executive Director Richard Tefank via the California Public Records Act. The earlier ones are Microsoft Word documents and the later are spreadsheets. I exported them all to PDF as well.
Take a look at this page if you want to download copies of any of these. And there’s plenty more, but that’s enough for now! As I said, I’m looking into the breakfasts and some other related items. Read all about it right here when the goods come in!