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LAPD Chief Beck: LAPD leads the way on transparency

To the editor: I was very disappointed with this editorial's headline. ("LAPD's wall of secrecy has to go," editorial, Feb. 4)

As you wrote deep into your editorial, the Los Angeles Police Department's inability to disclose additional details of an officer-involved shooting and any resulting discipline is “not due to some Los Angeles Police Department anti-transparency policy, but because of an overly restrictive state law … designed to protect the privacy of officers.” Your headline, however, misleadingly suggests that the LAPD has chosen to prevent public disclosure.

For decades the LAPD has been a leader in providing detailed information regarding serious use-of-force and disciplinary decisions. For example, the department started disclosing the names of officers involved in shootings typically within 72 hours of the incident long before the California Supreme Court required such disclosure by all agencies.

The department also discloses my detailed analyses of incidents and recommendations to the Police Commission. Within days of deliberation, the commission discloses details of the incident and its conclusions. Very few departments in the country provide such in-depth information to the public.

In addition, starting as early as the 1950s, the LAPD conducted open disciplinary hearings for police officers recommended for termination until the state Supreme Court ruled that such disciplinary matters are restricted from public disclosure under state law.

The LAPD's steadfast commitment to transparency and accountability, as shown by decades of openness and transparency, will continue but can only do so without violating the law.

Charlie Beck, Los Angeles

The writer is chief of the LAPD.

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