One of the mandates Charlie Beck got when he became chief of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) was to bring order to the department’s internal bureaucracy. Today we know that one of the biggest and most persistent problems the LAPD has is the lack of an organized system to file and control the lawsuits that officers themselves bring against the department. Currently, these cases account for almost 30% of the total that the LAPD pays for lawsuits. A recent audit revealed that more than $30 million of the $110 million paid in the past five years corresponds to internal lawsuits brought by officers against their employer. The problem is that an internal control system for these lawsuits can’t operate efficiently while other serious issues exist: the files are disorganized, documents from past lawsuits get destroyed and in general, the material lacks systematization, which could offer the information necessary to resolve the problem.
The LAPD has changed a lot, and for the better, in the past 15 years of reforms. As we all remember, these reforms took a lot of blood, sweat and tears from the city and its leaders. This department that is modern and open to scrutiny must now also take control of its internal bureaucracy, to prevent excessive expenses at a time when the city can’t afford to throw millions of dollars overboard.
Let’s make sure that an internal monitoring system is implemented for these cases or lawsuits, so leaders can review why they increase and decide what to do to decrease them. Information must first become available and then be analyzed to implement the solutions. It is very tough to have one without the other. Also, let’s remember that this money comes from Los Angeles’ taxpayers, and we would rather see it spent on public safety and not to address the results of messy files.