LAPD report attributes May Day incident to lack of leadership, training

first_imgA police investigation released today blamed problems in leadership and training for a May Day melee in which officers in riot gear pummeled news media and demonstrators at an immigration rally. The 90-page report to the civilian Los Angeles Police Commission echoed previous conclusions by Police Chief William Bratton and made a host of recommendations for changes in the way the Los Angeles Police Department handles confrontations. Police had several chances to stop the violence during the confrontation, the report said. “Instead, the failing leadership, breakdown in supervision and breakdown in personal discipline caused those without full situational awareness to take action without understanding how their decisions might affect the final outcome,” the report concluded. “The larger issue was the fact that not a single supervisor or member of the command staff involved attempted to intervene,” the report said. Deputy Chief Caylor “Lee” Carter underestimated the size and significance of the rally, and verbally reprimanded an LAPD captain who had suggested additional planning, the report said. The report cited confusion among officers about who was in charge and tension between Carter and two other commanding officers. “As a result, subordinate officers witnessed conflicting direction,” the report said, adding that officers in the field made requests over the radio that went unacknowledged. The report to the commission recommended that the LAPD improve communication between commanders and officers during public events. It also recommended putting officers’ names or serial numbers on their helmets and vests to make them more easily identifiable. Police also should annually review crowd control policies “including use of force,” the report said. “It appeared that some of the officers and supervisors in MacArthur Park believed that, contrary to department policy, baton strikes could be used to compel a person to disperse, even if they were merely standing in front of the officers, failing to respond to direction,” the report said. All of the recommendations will be implemented by the department within a year, the report said. Tim Sands, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, which represents officers, said the report revealed the downside of a department decision in recent years to not train all officers for large tactical situations. “We are pleased that one of the outcomes of the incident is that the department has agreed to stop sacrificing training,” Sands said in a prepared statement. The report did not address the issue of how officers involved in the melee should be disciplined. That is being handled in a separate LAPD process. Since the May 1 melee, there has been a staff shakeup at the department. Lawsuits have been filed. Several investigations were launched. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has said he was “deeply, personally troubled” by the violence. The clash in MacArthur Park broke out after officers reported being targeted by as many as 50 “agitators” throwing rocks and bottles. Bratton has said a breakdown in police command led officers to respond with force, swing batons and fire dozens of bean bags, sponges and other nonlethal projectiles to disperse a crowd of demonstrators and journalists in the park. He also faulted poor communication and planning. “It all broke down,” Bratton has said. No one was seriously hurt, but images of baton-wielding officers knocking people to the ground played repeatedly on newscasts. The city is facing hundreds of lawsuits stemming from the melee. Last month, a claim was filed against the city on behalf of 164 people who say they were injured by officers. Since then 10 lawsuits and 94 other claims have been filed.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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