Accountability matters

first_imgCHIEF William Bratton is an outsider in city government, a product of neither the Los Angeles Police Department nor the city’s political machine. For this, we should all be grateful. Because if Bratton came from the same mold as the rest of city leadership, there’s no way he would have reassigned two top cops who were in charge during the May Day melee. In most city departments, accountability doesn’t exist. Mess up, even steal from the taxpayers, and your employment will remain assured; your climb up the bureaucratic ladder won’t be thwarted. Bratton, on the other hand, is demanding accountability in the LAPD, and that’s a refreshing change for city government. But in the meantime, even if all the officers’ decisions and actions turn out to have been licit, they certainly were faulty. What happened in MacArthur Park was an outrage, and the chief is entitled to surround himself with people whose judgment he can trust, just as the public is entitled to know this kind of bungling will not be tolerated. Rather than reflexively attacking the critics, the police union should be zealous about seeing to it that whoever is at fault is held accountable. After all, bad conduct on the part of a few cops makes the vast majority of good, competent officers look bad. Trying to deflect accountability and deny wrongdoing may be the norm in L.A. city government, but it’s a recipe for more and greater abuses. Fortunately Bratton, the outsider, seems to understand this better than City Hall’s insiders do.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! On Monday, Bratton demoted Deputy Chief Caylor “Lee” Carter, a 33-year veteran who was head of Central Division and oversaw 1,700 officers, to the rank of commander, and reassigned him to indefinite home duty. The chief also reassigned Carter’s second-in-command at the scene, 40-year veteran Cmdr. Louis Gray, to the Operations Bureau. While the Police Protective League has been shrieking about a supposed rush to judgment in the wake of the May 1 fracas, the evidence was clear that the LAPD messed up. The question is who was responsible, and Bratton made it clear that the people in charge would be the first to pay, saying the reassignments were personnel decisions, not disciplinary. He’s right to act now. It may be possible, albeit unlikely, that neither Carter and Gray nor anyone else in the LAPD did anything in violation of the law or department policy on May 1. Time and investigations will tell, at which point discipline may be appropriate. last_img read more