Police Commission to Review Reports into Police Response to 2020 Protests


LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners today will review three reports that found the Los Angeles Police Department mishandled aspects of its response to the May and June protests against racism and police brutality.

The reports were commissioned by the Los Angeles City Council and the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners following last spring's mass demonstrations sparked by the May 25 killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

The first report was released on March 11 and was prepared by a half-dozen former members of the LAPD, including a retired commander and assistant chief. It found that many officers were not properly trained in crowd control tactics, illegally detained people who committed infractions, used “less-lethal weapons'' on peaceful protesters and created chaos through conflicting orders.

The remaining two reports were released last Friday and were conducted by the National Police Foundation and Los Angeles Police Department.

The National Police Foundation's report found:

-- the department's crowd management policies and practices “were inadequate to handle the disparate groups or to identify leaders among the protesters and address the level of violence;''

-- the documentation of use of force during the protests was inconsistent by LAPD officers;

-- some LAPD personnel had not received contemporary training on crowd management, mobile field force, supervision, de-escalation or less-lethal launchers;

-- the LAPD does not have one policy to direct its “response specifically to large-scale, fluid, city-wide civil unrest that turns violent or contains violence;''

-- communication within the department was inconsistent between Chief Michel Moore, his command staff, bureau commanders, field supervisors and line officers; and

-- officer morale is low and has been described as “at an all-time low.''

The National Police Foundation bills itself as an independent, nonpartisan research foundation that conducts research into police behavior, policy and procedure. It held listening sessions with the public to help independently assess the LAPD's response to the May and June protests.

The second report released Friday was conducted by the agency at issue -- the LAPD.

That report found “inadequacies'' in:

-- command and control training, especially within the Incident Command System;

-- communication;

-- response to new tactics;

-- mass arrests, transportation and field jails; and

-- record-keeping, which it called poor or antiquated.

“The department must be open to new ways of thinking about crowds. The department must consider whether control is the best option, and what new technologies can be used in times of civil unrest,'' the report said.

The department's recommendations include the establishment of a Department Operations Center when a citywide event occurs.

“The purpose of a fully activated DOC is to manage large-scale and complex unusual occurrences,'' the report said.

Similar to the other two reports, the Los Angeles Police Department's internal review also found problems with multiple commanding officers giving conflicting orders.

It said that unity-of-command issues “caused confusion during an already chaotic situation.''

The report alleges that protest crowds in Los Angeles were violent and hostile toward officers. Along with police vehicles and private property being vandalized, it alleges that officers were assaulted by people in crowds.

In a letter to commissioners ahead of Tuesday's review, Moore said, “While there were missteps and shortfalls in communication and command and control, especially from senior staff in the field, the vast majority of personnel performed admirably with their ongoing efforts to tirelessly serve the city, even in the face of antagonistic and violent crowds.''

The report released in March found that officers collectively employed a “significant amount'' of less-lethal tools, including batons, bean bag shotguns, stringer grenades and 37mm and 40mm launchers, which some officers were not properly trained to use, the report says.

The department's report quantified that amount as 11,305 rounds of less-lethal munitions (37mm rounds, 40mm rounds and beanbag shotgun rounds) during the protest period.

Demonstrators reported being struck in the head and face, and sustaining significant injuries, with some requiring surgery. A number of lawsuits were filed, alleging plaintiffs were injured by police while peacefully protesting.

The LAPD's internal report said that 55 people reported injuries from law enforcement officers, 17 of which were described as serious. The department did not report on specifics about the injuries “due to ongoing investigations and litigation.''

The Board of Police Commissioners is expected to review the reports and transfer them to Mayor Eric Garcetti and the Los Angeles City Council. The public can watch the virtual meeting at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday via Zoom at https://lapd.zoom.us/s/289225944.

Photo: Getty Images

Copyright 2021, City News Service, Inc.

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