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Assigning LAPD officers to work security at Rams games an illegal ‘gift’ from city, lawsuit claims

Rams fans cheer as the team takes the Coliseum field for its scrimmage on Aug. 6. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
Rams fans cheer as the team takes the Coliseum field for its scrimmage on Aug. 6.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Former Los Angeles City Councilman Dennis Zine filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the city of Los Angeles and Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck, alleging an illegal “gift of public funds” for providing police security at Rams home games.

The eight-page suit said the city was not reimbursed for using more than 200 police officers at the Rams’ two preseason games at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. It said on-duty officers are working security outside the stadium instead of tending to their normal duties.

“I think it’s inappropriate to give a gift to a billion-dollar corporation when they can pay the tab for security,” Zine said.

Zine said the Rams should follow the lead of the Los Angeles Dodgers and foot the bill for security outside the stadium.

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“When you’re paying $90 to $350 [per ticket], you expect to have security to provide protection for you,” Zine said.

He estimates it will cost $2 million to fund outside security for the upcoming NFL regular season.

The allegations come less than three weeks before the Rams open up the regular season in a Sept. 18 match-up with the Seattle Seahawks, its first regular season home game in Los Angeles in decades.

Zine and co-plaintiff James Bibeau of Los Angeles called for a judge to determine whether the use of on-duty police for public safety at Rams games is consistent with an “unlawful gift of public funds.”

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Zine and Bibeau announced the lawsuit during a news conference at the office of the Los Angeles Police Protective League.

The two are also seeking a court order to block the city and Beck from allegedly spending tax dollars on security for the Rams until the city is reimbursed. 

A Rams representative declined to comment on the suit. The LAPD and city attorney’s offices also declined comment.

The Rams said in a statement earlier this month that they were working with the LAPD to reach an agreement on security arrangements. The team added that it was planning meetings with the LAPD and USC, which operates Memorial Coliseum.

The City Council approved a memo on Aug. 12 asking the LAPD to determine what effect Rams games will have on officer deployment in the city. The motion also calls on the LAPD to determine the costs of supplying officers for game security and if their use might affect emergency response times.

On the same day, four councilmembers — including Council President Herb Wesson — sent a note asking Rams owner Stan Kroenke to pay for use of LAPD, Los Angeles Fire Department and other city personnel for public safety duties at Rams games.  

shane.newell@latimes.com

Follow me on Twitter @journoshane.

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UPDATES:

2:30 p.m.: This article was updated with additional details about the lawsuit and comments from former Los Angeles City Councilman Dennis Zine.

This article was originally published at 11:05 a.m.


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