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Mayor Garcetti announces changes for the L.A. Police Commission

Mayor Garcetti announces changes for the L.A. Police Commission
Cynthia McClain-Hill, appointed to the Los Angeles Police Commission in 2016, is leaving the civilian oversight board, officials said. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Mayor Eric Garcetti on Wednesday nominated an attorney who had a hand in some of the most critical reforms in Los Angeles police history to the department’s civilian oversight panel.

Dale Bonner was nominated to replace Cynthia McClain-Hill on the five-member Police Commission, which oversees the LAPD. Bonner once worked with the now-defunct Christopher Commission, which examined police conduct and policies in the wake of the 1992 Los Angeles riots.

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“Dale is an extraordinary leader who understands the critical importance of transparency, accountability, and giving the brave women and men of the LAPD the tools and technology they need to excel at their jobs and meet the demands of 21st century policing,” the mayor said in a statement. “He shares my commitment to strengthening trust between officers and the Angelenos they serve.”

Garcetti nominated McClain-Hill, who joined the Police Commission in 2016, to the Los Angeles Board of Water and Power Commissioners. In her brief time on the Police Commission, McClain-Hill frequently voiced support for community members who complained about LAPD use of force and racial profiling. Her appointment to the panel was met with praise by civil rights activists in 2016.

She was also one of four commissioners who voted to approve a policy that now requires the LAPD to release body camera recordings from police shootings and other critical incidents involving use of force. The policy has already provided Angelenos an inside look into deadly high-profile confrontations, including a recent gun battle between officers and a suspect outside a Trader Joe’s in Silver Lake in which the store’s manager was fatally wounded by police gunfire.

“Serving on the Police Commission has been an amazing opportunity. I am grateful to Mayor Garcetti, and will always have deep respect for the men and women of the LAPD and strong confidence in the leadership of Chief Michel Moore,” McClain-Hill said in a statement.

Bonner previously served as the state’s secretary of business, transportation and housing. Early in his career he provided staff support to the Christopher Commission, which was tasked with analyzing the conduct of the Los Angeles Police Department after black motorist Rodney King was beaten by four white officers who were subsequently acquitted on charges of assault and excessive force.

The commission found the LAPD often ignored complaints about officers or frequently favored officers in investigations. Out of 2,152 allegations of excessive force made during a four-year period, only 42 were upheld, the commission found.

“The LAPD is an outstanding department, filled with people who have dedicated their lives to protecting and serving Angelenos,” Bonner said in a statement. “I am excited to bring my experience and perspective to the task of building relationships and capabilities that make our people safer and our neighborhoods more secure.”

The Los Angeles Police Protective League, which represents rank-and-file LAPD officers, said Bonner will have a “full plate of issues” to deal with and balance against public safety needs when he joins the board.

"As Los Angeles prepares for the World Cup and Olympic Games, as well as grapples with rising crime and a shortage of police officers, it will be imperative for police commissioners to stay focused on keeping neighborhoods safe,” the union said in a statement that also thanked McClain-Hill for her service.

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