In a move that has angered police union leaders, Los Angeles Police Department officials have decided that four officers who were scheduled to attend a conference and training session in Tucson next month will not go after all.
The trip to the annual Airborne Law Enforcement Assn. conference for the members of the LAPD's air unit was thrown into question last month after the Los Angeles City Council voted to suspend most travel to Arizona as part of its protest of that state's law dealing with illegal immigration.
Councilmen Greig Smith and Bernard C. Parks put forth a motion seeking an exception to the boycott. Some council members had suggested that the boycott could be sidestepped by finding a nonprofit group to finance the travel.
The council had been scheduled to vote Friday on the proposed exception, but it will now be tabled, said Police Chief Charlie Beck. He said the decision to cancel the trip Thursday was made in an attempt "to respect the council's boycott of Arizona."
"The Los Angeles Police Department is not a political entity and should not be seen as having a political position on the boycott," he said.
Beck added that he had been advised that the training to be provided at the conference was not essential to the work of the LAPD's air unit and could be received elsewhere.
"There will not be a training gap because of this," he said.
The decision angered Paul Weber, head of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, which represents the department's roughly 9,600 rank-and-file officers.
"I think it's a huge mistake," he said. "When the department decided a few months ago to send these officers to this training, they obviously saw the value in it. Public safety shouldn't be sacrificed just because Arizona's become a political football."
The league has not taken a position on Arizona's Senate Bill 1070, which makes it a crime to lack immigration papers and requires police to determine the status of people they lawfully stop and subsequently suspect are in the country illegally.
Representatives of Smith and Parks said they had not heard that the trip had been canceled.