Some parking enforcement officers with the LA Department of Transportation were engaging in a range of inappropriate and illegal behavior with little or no consequences.
A major housecleaning is underway at LA’s Bureau of Parking Enforcement, the city agency whose reputation was tarnished by a porn scandal uncovered in an NBC4 Investigation earlier this year.
In the wake of the NBC4 Investigation, last June Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa asked Los Angeles Police Department Commander Michael Williams to come over temporarily from the LAPD to shakeup The Bureau of Parking Enforcement in response to problems uncovered by NBC4.
Since then, numerous Traffic Officers have been fired and top managers have been pushed out.
“The public will see a new face of Parking Enforcement,” said Commander Michael Williams.
Referring to the Bureau’s Traffic Officers, who write tickets and have a reputation for rudeness, Williams said, “We want them to be more engaging, more professional, to be more friendly” with the public.
Turmoil engulfed the agency after a series of reports by NBC4 that began last spring. We first uncovered how two Traffic Officers appeared in a porn movie in uniform and while on duty.
Then we uncovered a longstanding pattern of Traffic Cops who were convicted of crimes on the job, including soliciting prostitutes and shoplifting, but none had ever been disciplined, as recommended by city policy.
But Williams promised any officer or manager who is now caught engaging in misconduct of any kind would be held accountable.
“You’re going to be held accountable, there are going to be consequences, serious consequences,” he said.
In just the six months since the NBC4 Investigation, 20 Traffic Officers have been disciplined, and four of them have been fired for various kinds of misconduct. Officials say there could be more firings in the near future.
Compare that to all of 2010, when just one officer was fired.
Among those fired were veteran Officer John Dancler, for “engaging in indecent acts” while appearing in the porn movie. Also fired were Officer Donald Brooks, convicted of shoplifting at Macy’s Department Store at the Westside Pavilion, while in his uniform and on duty.
Insiders told NBC4 last spring that Parking Enforcement Chief Jimmy Price rarely disciplined officers who got in trouble, especially if he held them in favor.
“People did things, and depending on who they knew, they were allowed to continue working without any real consequences,” said Williams.
Williams is also shaking up the top ranks of Parking Enforcement management.
Chief Price was forced to retire last June. Now, one of two Deputy Chiefs-- Rudy Carrasco-- has been asked to leave, and the other Deputy Chief, Christine Mata, is being reassigned to a job outside of Parking Enforcement.