Today’s Headlines: LAPD considers new limits on ‘pretextual stops’

Officers search a vehicle
Officers from the LAPD’s Metropolitan Division search a vehicle in 2015.
(Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

Hello, it’s Thursday, Feb. 3, and a sad anniversary in rock history: the day the music died. Before hitting today’s news, we’d like to pause and recall the Pacoima roots of one of the three young music legends killed in the crash of a small plane in a snowy Iowa field in 1959. Seventeen-year-old local boy and rising star Ritchie Valens died along with Buddy Holly, 22, and the Big Bopper, J.P. Richardson, 28.

In the late ’80s in an interview with The Times, Valens’ mom recalled her son growing up in the San Fernando Valley. She’d take him and his siblings to the Million Dollar Theater in downtown L.A. for Spanish-language movies. In the family’s backyard, Ritchie would sing a child’s lullaby he called “The Paddi Wack Song,” accompanied by his guitar, to his young sisters. At family gatherings, where Mexican music was played, he would listen to “La Bamba.” (And the rest is history.) More reminiscences in From the Archives.

Now, here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:


LAPD is considering new limits on ‘pretextual stops’

The Los Angeles Police Department is considering limiting “pretextual stops” of motorists and pedestrians by officers investigating serious crime, arguing they aren’t effective and have undermined public trust in the police — particularly among Black and Latino residents who have been disproportionately targeted in the past.


The proposed policy, which went before the civilian Police Commission on Tuesday over the objections of the union that represents rank-and-file officers, would bar such stops from being conducted “unless officers are acting upon articulable information” about a serious crime.

Super Bowl fans will need to wear masks

NFL and SoFi Stadium officials have joined with local health and elected officials to reiterate that masks must be worn by fans at the Super Bowl in Inglewood.

Staff will be on hand to remind people to mask up, said Russ Simons, senior advisor of facilities at SoFi Stadium. Masks will be provided to fans — a practice that has long been made available to guests. “Mask up. Stay safe,” Simons said.

The mask requirement in outdoor stadiums was criticized as unnecessary this week by a member of the Board of Supervisors, Kathryn Barger, after photos emerged of many fans maskless in their seats at Sunday’s Rams game. But at a press conference Wednesday, several local elected officials backed the mandate.

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Pelosi’s reelection bid keeps Democrats in suspense on leadership

When Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) announced her reelection bid last week, it was a sign that Democrats may be in limbo for another nine months before knowing who their next leader will be. When announcing her intent to run again for her congressional seat in November, she made no mention of what she will do after the election in terms of her leadership post.

Colleagues declined to comment publicly about the sensitive issue of Democratic House leadership. But several lawmakers said they were not surprised Pelosi left the question ambiguous, given her reluctance to make herself a lame duck and the need for Democrats to focus on passing legislation rather than fighting over leadership.

More politics

  • U.S. Appeals Court Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is considered the front-runner for a historic Supreme Court nomination, with a resume that includes graduating with high honors from Harvard College and serving as a law clerk for retiring Justice Stephen G. Breyer.
  • President Biden is ordering 2,000 U.S.-based troops to Poland and Germany and shifting 1,000 more from Germany to Romania, demonstrating America’s commitment to NATO’s eastern flank amid fears of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.

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Saving a lasting reminder of Mexican American school segregation

Hiding in plain sight on a dusty corner of the remote west Texas town of Marfa, the Blackwell School stands as a lasting reminder of what Mexican American students endured during decades of segregation. Opened in 1909 as a three-room “Mexican school,” Blackwell expanded to half a dozen buildings, educating more than 4,000 children before it closed in 1965.

Across the Southwest, former segregated schools for Mexican Americans have been converted into office buildings, community centers or abandoned. Blackwell is one of the few still standing, but it nearly suffered a similar fate. Some former students resented the school and refused to help save it. But others decided their experience, however painful, was vital history.

How climate change is threatening the future of the Winter Olympics

American athletes headed for Beijing for the 2022 Winter Olympics might not be formally educated in climatology or conversant in all the relevant political arguments. Their concerns might not compare to widespread heat waves, droughts and flooding. But they have a ground-level view of climate trends and can see firsthand the impact of global warming.

A recent Canadian study predicted that by the end of the century, nine of the past 21 Winter Olympics cities might not be cold enough to reliably host downhill races, biathlons or halfpipe competitions. Elite competitors say they are already dealing with shorter winter seasons and deteriorating conditions on the international circuit.

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Monarch butterflies cluster on a blue gum eucalyptus
Monarch butterflies cluster on a blue gum eucalyptus, waiting for the sun to warm their wings, at the Coastal Access Monarch Butterfly Preserve in Los Osos, Calif. The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation said in late January that community scientists had reported 247,000 overwintering butterflies in the 2021 Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count. There were fewer than 2,000 the year before.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)


A 49ers fan is in a coma after an apparent beating outside SoFi Stadium during the NFC championship. Police are investigating after a San Francisco 49ers fan was found severely injured in the parking lot of SoFi Stadium during Sunday’s game against the Rams.

California’s first surgeon general, Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, resigns. When the governor appointed Burke Harris to the role, he charged her with “tackling the state’s health problems.” She was particularly focused on screening and treating children for adverse childhood experiences and toxic stress, and played a key role in the state’s navigation of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Colorado neighbors of arrested ex-UCLA lecturer echo students’ anger over a lack of warnings. No one, it seemed, knew much about the 31-year-old, who kept a low profile and often dressed in a hooded sweatshirt and jeans. Then, early Tuesday, SWAT officers surrounded the building, evacuated some students and ordered nearby residents to shelter in place.

Can ‘pass/no pass’ grading stem huge declines in California Community College enrollment? The system has moved to permanently adopt a more forgiving pass/no pass grading system. But it comes with considerable risk to the transfer process at universities, including many in the UC and the Cal State system, which require letter grades in core subjects..

Fierce Santa Anas prompt wind warning for L.A. County mountains. The cold winds blowing from the north and northeast are expected to continue gusting through the weekend, according to officials with the National Weather Service.

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SpaceX launches a U.S. intelligence satellite from California. The U.S. National Reconnaissance Office only described the NROL-87 satellite as a “national security payload.” Its launch was one of three awarded by the Air Force to SpaceX in 2019 for a combined fixed price of $297 million.

The trial of three cops in the George Floyd killing is delayed due to a positive coronavirus test. The judge said that one of the defendants tested positive, but didn’t name him, and a news release from the courthouse identified the person only as a “case participant.”

Thousands of flights were canceled as a major winter storm hit the middle U.S. The blast of frigid weather put a long stretch of states from New Mexico and Colorado to Maine under winter storm warnings and watches. On Wednesday morning, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan saw freezing rain, sleet and snow.


Hulu’s wild ‘Pam & Tommy’ perfectly captures a transformative era: the ‘90s. In this eight-episode series, directed in part by Craig Gillespie, the 1990s’ queen and king of excess scramble to cope with the pressure and keep up with changing times as their intimate home video becomes the World Wide Web’s first viral celebrity sex romp, writes television critic Lorraine Ali.

Four were charged in the overdose death of actor Michael K. Williams. The men are believed to be members of a drug distribution crew, authorities said Wednesday. All four were arrested Tuesday and were in custody based on criminal complaints in Manhattan federal court.

Spotify CEO tells employees why the company doesn’t edit Joe Rogan: It’s a platform. Spotify CEO Daniel Ek’s position on where Rogan falls, which Spotify has been reluctant to explain publicly, is a revealing look at how the company’s leadership interprets its own responsibility (or relative lack thereof) for what Rogan and his guests say on the service’s most popular podcast, “The Joe Rogan Experience.”


Jeff Zucker resigns from CNN after relationship with colleague. In a stunning move, Zucker resigned as CNN president citing his failure to disclose a relationship with a longtime colleague. Zucker said in a memo that the relationship surfaced during CNN’s investigation into former anchor Chris Cuomo.

If your phone, car or home alarm relies on 3G, you need to prepare for a shutdown. Mobile phone companies’ 5G networks are bringing more speed and innovation to consumers, but to open up airwaves, the companies are shutting down older networks.


Washington’s NFL team unveils its new name: Commanders. The new name comes 18 months after the once-storied franchise dropped its old moniker following decades of criticism that it was offensive to Native Americans and under fresh pressure from sponsors.

Figure skater Mariah Bell is proud she never gave up on her Olympic dream. Bell’s enduring passion for her sport sees her make the Olympics for the first time when most figure skaters her age are going into retirement, writes sports columnist Helene Elliott.

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Former President Trump’s vow to pardon Jan. 6 insurrectionists is itself an attack on the rule of law. The mere prospect of pardons interferes with the hundreds of assault, conspiracy and sedition prosecutions and investigations currently underway, because it changes the calculation of the defendants, who may reconsider whether to plead guilty or proceed to trial if they believe they ultimately may be pardoned.

If killings of Mexico’s journalists continue, democracy will die with them. Mexico is now the world’s deadliest country for journalists. Despite its constitution guaranteeing a free press, and a special prosecutor’s office focusing on crimes against the press, about 150 journalists have been killed there since 2000.


Al Michaels on his 56-year Super Bowl journey, in his own words. NBC play-by-play announcer Al Michaels has called some of the greatest games in NFL history, and now with the Super Bowl in Los Angeles, he’ll finally get to work one in his hometown. He was in the Coliseum stands for the first Super Bowl — then the AFL-NFL World Championship Game — and recounted those memories and more for Times NFL writer Sam Farmer.


Side-by-side formal portraits of three smiling men.
The Times reported on the deaths of Ritchie Valens, Buddy Holly and J.P. Richardson in the Feb. 4, 1959, issue.
(Los Angeles Times archive)

Sixty-three years ago today, a plane crash claimed the lives of Ritchie Valens, Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper. Movies and songs have touched on the tragedy. The Times wrote the following day that they were “three of the brightest stars in the world of slam-bang rock-and-roll music.” In a poignant reminder of Valens’ youth, the paper noted he “was registered at San Fernando High School as a junior student but had left school to go on tour.”

Valens was America’s first Latino rock star and Pacoima’s favorite son. When he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001, around 700 people packed the recreation center that bears his name. Richard Steven Valenzuela knew he was going to be famous, one old friend said. But at home in Pacoima, one of his sisters said, he “was just Ritchie. He wasn’t a star to us.”

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