LAPD Chief Michel Moore says as part of wider efforts to reform the department and improve its accountability to the public the chief should be given the authority to directly fire officers who've broken the law or violated department policies.
"The change I'm looking for is the ability for the chief to be the chief, and it's really not more than that," Moore told the NBC4 I-Team Friday.
Under current rules the chief can refer officers accused of wrongdoing to an internal administrative trial board, called a "Board of Rights," but can only recommend a punishment. The Board, made up of two command level LAPD officers and a third outside appointee, can follow the chief's recommendations or reduce the punishment. The chief cannot appeal.
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Moore said he's been troubled by one recent case in which he was certain an officer would be fired for serious misconduct, but even though the officer was found guilty at an administrative trial, the Board reduced the punishment and the officer remains employed at the LAPD.
To the public Moore says it appears he has the power to fire and punish, and since the public expects accountability from LA's top cop, he says the authority should be returned to his office.
"I'm responsible for 'em, people hold the chief of police accountable, and yet I don't have the authority, and so I think it's an opportunity for reform," he said.
California has certain strict privacy laws that apply only to police officers, making it difficult for departments to show the public that officers who committed misconduct faced any discipline, including suspensions or firings.
"I also believe that the ability to talk about discipline more freely will demonstrate to the public our transparency and that we hold our people accountable," the chief said.
The limits on an LAPD chief's power to terminate are part of the city's charter, which controls its systems of government and bureaucracy. The rules date back more than 50 years, and Moore said they were originally put in place to prevent corrupt city leaders from taking vengeful action against employees.