Taxpayer Lawsuit Tackles Funding for LAPD Officers Who Provide Security at Rams Games

The lawsuit calls for the Rams to pay for LAPD officers who provide security on game days

A taxpayer lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles alleges an unlawful "gift of public funds" to the Los Angeles Rams in the form of security at home games and calls for changes to how those officers are paid.

The lawsuit filed Wednesday by former Los Angeles City Councilmember Dennis Zine, a former police officer, and Los Angeles resident James Bibeau seeks "to prevent the city from expending any additional taxpayer funds to provide over 200 LAPD officers free of charge to secure Rams home games," according to a statement from the Los Angeles Police Protective League.

"Rams owner Stan Kroenke has refused to pay in full for the police services necessary to ensure public safety at his team's home games," the statement said. "This free use of LAPD personnel constitutes an illegal gift of $2 million in public funds."

Under the current plan, the Rams pay for security provided inside the stadium, but not for the area outside the stadium.

"We're asking that the Rams pay overtime for these officers on an off-duty basis," said Jerretta Sandoz, vice president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League. "So officers need to volunteer to work these games and be paid by the Rams."

The officers who work Rams games should be paid overtime by the organization instead of taking a day off during their regular work week, according to the plaintiffs. The lawsuit said the officers' committment to Rams games has had negative impacts on law enforcement investigations and caseload management.

More than 200 officers are assigned to areas outside the stadium on game day. They're drawn from key divisions, such as gang enforcement, Major Crimes, which is assigned to investigate threats to public safety, and robbery-homicide. 

Earlier this month, members of the LA City Council wrote a letter to the franchise requesting that policing inside and outside the stadium be "fully covered" by the Rams organization. The letter also asked that the Rams use off-duty officers instead of department personnel already assigned to patrols.

The Rams issued a statement on the general topic of security saying the team is "working with the LAPD to find solutions that work for everyone -- in fact, we have a few meetings already scheduled with LAPD and USC leadership in the coming weeks.

"The safety of fans attending our games is a priority and we are appreciative of the great team at LAPD and other agencies that will be part of our game-day security operation for helping ensure a safe environment for our guests," the Rams statement said.

The Rams play their fourth and final preseason game Thursday at Minnesota. The team opens the regular season Sept. 12 at San Francisco before returning home Sept. 18 to face division power Seattle.

The Rams will play homes games at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum until their new Inglewood stadium opens in 2019. 

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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