Panelists Watch Over Who Gets Permits and Who Doesn't

The panel was formed as a result of a recommendation by the Christopher Commission, the citizens group formed after the Rodney G. King beating. Gordon and Friedman were interviewed by Nancy Slate

Gordon: Los Angeles issues about 4,000 permits in 52 categories dealing mainly with public facilities like theaters, pawn shops and towing operations.

When someone with a permit violates a law, the permit can be revoked after the Police Department files an accusation. The case goes to an impartial hearing officer appointed by the Police Commission. If the person is found guilty, he decides whether to revoke or suspend the license.

The person can then come before our panel and present a case. Maybe he feels the hearing officer was wrong. Maybe there were mitigating circumstances or new evidence. The panel either upholds or changes the decision. For instance, the hearing officer may have recommended suspending the license for 60 days, and we decide to suspend for only 30.

In one case a family came before the panel. They had a store and were accused of receiving stolen merchandise. They claimed not to be aware that it was stolen, but the evidence indicated they deliberately violated the law. So we upheld the decision. Still, it's important to have a place where everyone can go and present their cases and be treated fairly.

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Friedman: I was born in Hungary and came to Los Angeles with my parents in 1956, after living under communism. One reason I'm on this panel is because, when we came here, it was paradise on Earth. I want to do all I can to make it that paradise again. I'm sure there are members of minority communities who have the perception that enforcement is discriminatory in permits as well as in everything else. Based on my contact with members of the police force, the majority--and I stress the majority--are doing their best to equally enforce permit laws. Our cases have involved a vast array of people of all races, creeds and national origins.

I know that a dictatorial system can do away with a fair legal system overnight. So it's extremely important that we be watchdogs and make sure laws are fairly enforced.

The Police Permit Review panel meets on the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month at 3 p.m. in Room 146 at Parker Center, 150 N. Los Angeles St. if the caseload is sufficient. Information: (213) 485-3531.

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