There is a lot of interesting stuff in the Los Angeles City Charter! And I didn’t realize it before, but the same is true of the Los Angeles Administrative Code! It turns out that the LAAC includes a local version of the California Public Records Act. This differs here and there from State law, and some of the differences are really interesting.
Let’s take a look at LAAC §12.21. This is the local version of CPRA §6254, which is the main list of exemptions. The infamous §6254(f) is the so-called investigative exemption, which basically allows the cops to refuse to release any records which can properly be described as “investigatory or security files.” And the local LA version, found at LAAC §12.21(f), is roughly the same albeit localized.
With at one exceedingly important exception! But before that, some background! The LAPD Public Disorder Intelligence Division was established by Chief Edward Davis in 1970, apparently as a reaction to the Watts Uprising in 1965. The PDID infiltrated hundreds of progressive political groups and also spied on electeds from the Mayor to the City Council. According to historian Max Felker-Kanter:
The PDID operated as an updated Red Squad gathering “practically all” information on “potential threats” and storing as much information as possible. It was, in other words, a comprehensive surveillance program that significantly expanded the department’s intelligence operations.
Continue reading In 1983 Public Opposition To The LAPD Political Espionage Unit — Public Disorder Intelligence Division — Was Strong Enough That The Police Commission Dissolved It — And Then-CD5 Repster Zev Yaroslavsky — One Of The Politicians Spied On By LAPD — Sponsored An Ordinance Which Excluded PDID Intelligence Files From The Much-Hated Investigative Exemption — Which Means All Of Them Must Be Released On Request! — Unless They’re Exempt For Other Reasons Than Investigative — But Even More Interesting — Maybe One Of The Most Interesting Things About The Los Angeles Administrative Code — Is That Yaroslavsky Specifically Precluded LAPD From Making A Burdensomeness Exemption Claim — Which Says That In 1983 LAPD Was Making Exactly The Same Kinds Of Bogus Exemption Claims They Love So Much Now — But Not About These Spy Records!!
You want to know how angry the LAPD is at me? Well, they are so angry that Chief Michel Moore, who apparently reads my blog obsessively but fails to understand most of it, wrote me a really aggressive, really disrespectful letter about how freaking mean I am to everybody and they’re not going to work very hard on my requests for public records going forward. No, really, read the letter! Cut through all the nonsense in there and all it really says is that they’re going to continue not filling my requests and lying about the reasons. But of course they’re doing that anyway, so it’s not much of a threat.
But let’s talk about why Moore is so angry at me! Start with the quality of my requests, and remember, this is Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore speaking: you frequently submit CPRA requests to the Department that are complex, vague, and/or overbroad, which create considerable burdens for the Department, and which significantly constrain the ability of some of the Department’s staff to fulfill their other work responsibilities and efficiently serve other members of the public.
This is interesting, because much of what he says is wrong. Some of it’s actually incredibly deceptive. First of all, I never write vague requests. I just don’t. What would be the point? Second, my requests are not overbroad, a word which in any case does not have an objective meaning in relation to the CPRA. Finally, it’s possible that some of my requests are complex, although I doubt it. I can’t think of any that aren’t straightforward.
Continue reading Michel Moore Sent Me A Really Aggressive Letter — Saying That I Ask For Too Many Records — And They Can’t Understand My Requests — Because I Intentionally Make Them Impossible To Understand — And Moore Reads My Blog! — And Doesn’t Understand What He’s Reading! — Or Pretends Not To — And Throws My Own Words Back At Me — The Ones That Don’t Say What He Apparently Thinks Or Pretends To Think They Say —And Yet In 2012 When Some USC Prof Asked LAPD For 762,000 Pages — Yes — You Read That Right — LAPD Was All Like Sure Thing Herr Doctor Professor! — Is 6,000 Pages A Week OK With You Good Sir? — And A Quick Calculation Reveals That All My Requests To The City Probably Don’t Total This Much — And I Don’t Work At USC — So No Records For Me!