A letter by retired LAPD Deputy Chief Stephen Downing in response to recent Press Telegram Editorial on Long Beach Police misconduct:
Not long ago, the Long Beach City Council voted to approve settling the Debra Stefano case for $320,000. Now we have Perry Grays collecting $380,000, down $61,000 from the jury award of $441,000, after a negotiation in which the city agreed not to appeal and delay justice.
The Stefano and Grays incidents both involved a simple noise complaint, an amenable and compliant citizen who ultimately objected when the responding officers exceeded their authority. Because they voiced an objection to the officers’ behavior, they were tased, beaten, arrested and jailed for several days with no charges filed.
These incidents could have been avoided had the officers understood that police professionalism begins with the ability to leave their egos in the locker room when going on duty; recognized that “contempt of cop” is not a violation of law; and, in Perry’s case, understood they should have nothing to hide when a member of the community asks for their badge numbers.
We need to bring the Long Beach Police Department out of the dark ages and install systems of review that are transparent and effective in promoting professionalism, training, discipline and the weeding out of those unfit for the job of a peace officer. That starts with charter reform that gives the police chief disciplinary authority over all police employees, and installs an independent board of citizen police commissioner with policy authority over the LBPD, and an inspector general who has charter authority to investigate allegations of misconduct without interference from the police chief, city attorney or city manager.
— Stephen Downing, Long Beach The letter writer is a retired Los Angeles Police Department deputy chief