It’s Not Enough to Get Paid for Not Working: These L.A. Police and Firefighters Figured Out How to Double It

Take a program that lets a public employee earn both a pension and a salary at the same time. Add an extremely generous disability leave and workers' compensation program that allows public employees to be paid while not working for months or even years on end. What do you get? Massive corruption, obviously. A new report from the Los Angeles Times attempts to quantify the costs and consequences of a program allowing L.A. police and firefighters to collect both salaries and pension returns in … [Read more...]

Law Enforcement Unions Have Too Much Power

The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association of the City of New York, the largest union representing NYPD officers, took a bold step toward reform this week: It cut the number of “courtesy cards” members can give to their friends and family from 30 to 20. If you’ve never heard of these cards, you’re not alone. They allow their bearers to skate on speeding tickets or other low-level offenses, and they’re something of a closely guarded trade secret among officers, perhaps because of the petty corruption … [Read more...]

One Year In: LASD’s McDonnell Still Punks Civilian Oversight Commission 

I urge everyone to read this transcript of a Frank Stoltze/KPCC news story on the first year of operations for the Civilian Oversight Commission set up to monitor the LA County Sheriff's Department and make that huge and scandal-tainted police force more responsive to community concerns. Without actually using contemptuous language, Sheriff Jim McDonnell makes his contempt for the Commission clear enough in three comments he gives to the reporter: We (LASD) already know everything there … [Read more...]

San Francisco Will Clear Thousands of Marijuana Convictions

Thousands of people with misdemeanor convictions for marijuana possession dating back 40 years will have their criminal records cleared, the San Francisco district attorney’s office said Wednesday. San Diego is also forgiving old convictions. Recreational marijuana became legal in California this year, and the law allowed those with prior low-level offenses to petition for expungement, a process that can be costly. But in San Francisco and San Diego, people need not ask. George Gascón, San … [Read more...]

Charlie Beck’s Replacement Should Let Cops Be Cops

As the search begins for his replacement, some in Los Angeles are celebrating Charlie Beck's departure. The call for the Los Angeles police chief's removal had become a weekly refrain at the police commission meetings held every Tuesday morning. Despite his reformist reputation— he sought to protect immigrant communities and oversaw the completion of a consent decree imposed after the 2002 Rampart corruption scandal — the list of criticisms was long, particularly from people of color. So when … [Read more...]

6 Elements of Police Spin: An Object Lesson in Copspeak

The linguistic gymnastics needed to report on police violence without calling up images of police violence is a thing of semantic wonder. Officers don’t shoot, they are merely “involved” in shootings; victims are not victims, but “suspects” “fleeing”; human beings become premortem cadavers as bullets “enter the torso” rather than the chest of a person; guns and bullets act on their own as they “discharge” or “enter the right femur,” rather than being fired by autonomous individuals with agency … [Read more...]

Bad Boys: How “Cops” Became the Most Polarizing Reality TV Show in America

Morgan Langley leans toward a large computer screen. He isn’t sure if the video clip is still there, posted to a random YouTube channel named after a ’90s punk-ska act, but after a few moments, he finds it. Out of a black screen flashes a white Ford Mustang with blacked-out windows and chrome rims. Langley, who is an executive producer of one of America’s longest-running reality shows, “Cops,” narrates. “This kid here is actually selling a thousand pills of ecstasy to an undercover cop,” he says … [Read more...]

Justice Not Jails Seeks a Part-Time Organizer

Organizer - Justice Not Jails Los Angeles Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity, Los Angeles, CA 90041 $1,000 - $2,000 a month - Part-time, Contract Justice Not Jails, a faith-based network focused on mass incarceration and abusive policing, seeks a part-time organizer to help its multi-faith leadership team move the work forward. The organizer will interact with congregational clergy, leaders of allied organizations, policymakers, and others. An engaging confident manner, along with a … [Read more...]

Black Lives Matter and the Lives That Preceded It

As an activist and a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, Patrisse Khan-Cullors spends a good amount of time talking to others, not infrequently with a bullhorn in her hand. Her childhood, however, was suffused with silence. In “When They Call You a Terrorist,” written with the journalist Asha Bandele, she remembers peering from behind a fence when her older brothers, then 11 and 13, were playing with their friends outside and a police car rolled up. The officers “throw them up on … [Read more...]

When Reagan’s War on Pot Came to California

Black helicopters, the National Guard and ‘Ride of the Valkyries’ Now that marijuana is finally legal for recreational use in the state of California, we’ve been looking at the drug’s history in the state — how it has been used, regulated and prohibited. In the first post, we looked at the origins of marijuana and cannabis prohibition, going back to the early 20th century. For this post, we’ll pick it back up in the late 1960s, as Richard Nixon begins his crusade against illicit substances and, … [Read more...]