LAPD union calls for training in crowd control

Times Staff Writer

One day before LAPD Chief William J. Bratton is scheduled to deliver his report on the May Day MacArthur Park melee, the police union Monday offered up its own recommendations for new crowd-control training for officers and commanders.

The call from the Los Angeles Police Protective League, which represents the department’s 9,400 officers, comes as Bratton is expected to fault lapses in training, communication, planning and lax field command for flawed tactics that resulted in 50 people being struck by police batons and hard foam bullets during the May 1 immigrant rights protest.

The union said changes can avoid a repeat of the “kind of missteps” seen May 1. League officials on Monday called for all new officers in the Metropolitan Division, the unit involved in the melee, to attend “new person school” to ensure they are trained immediately in crowd-control tactics. The union also called for all command officers to be required annually to attend crowd-control management classes.


“Constant, updated training ensures that officers know not only what to do, but can implement the department’s policies, procedures and expectations for any given incident,” said league President Bob Baker. “The May 1 incident revealed the downside of the department’s cost-based decision over the past several years to abandon introductory training for new Metropolitan Division officers, and to not train all officers for large tactical situations.”

But Bratton and other city leaders have said that lack of training alone cannot explain why some officers struck protesters and members of the media after telling them to clear the park. Law enforcement sources said that once officers began using batons and foam-rubber bullets in response to what police say was 30 to 40 protesters throwing objects at police, supervisors failed to stop attacks on media members and others who did not meet the “combative and aggressive” threshold required for such force.

Within days of the melee, Bratton reassigned the two highest-ranking command officers at the scene and assigned a sergeant and two officers from the Metro unit to home.

Among several recommendations, police union officials Monday called for a clear use-of-force policy for employing batons in crowd-control situations.

They also said officers should be clearly informed of the safety zone for media in the event of an order to disperse a crowd. The safety zone stems from a court settlement after similar incidents during the 2000 Democratic National Convention, which took place in Los Angeles.

They also recommended mandatory training for media personnel credentialed by the Police Department on how to act in such situations.