Civilian disciplinary panel more lenient on accused LAPD officers, inspector general’s review finds

Local news
Los Angeles Police Department headquarters. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

The Los Angeles Police Department headquarters is seen in an undated photo. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

A review of recent police misconduct cases by the Los Angeles Police Department’s inspector general found that hearing panels comprised entirely of civilians were more lenient on accused officers than more traditional panels with two officers and one civilian.

In the most serious cases, in which officers were recommended for termination by LAPD Chief Michel Moore, the all-civilian panels recommended a lesser penalty more than 70% of the time, the review found — leaving 11 officers on the force who otherwise would have been fired.

While based on a relatively small number of cases, the findings suggest that a 2019 ordinance allowing all-civilian Board of Rights panels for the first time has resulted — just as community activists feared — in lighter penalties for LAPD officers found to have violated department policies or committed more serious misconduct.

Presenting the report to the Police Commission on Tuesday, Inspector General Mark Smith said the pandemic had reduced the number of hearings in 2020, and he was “wary of drawing some really substantial or well-formed conclusions” from the limited findings.

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