Pubdate: Sat, 05 Oct 2013
Source: Long Beach Press-Telegram (CA)
Copyright: 2013 Los Angeles Newspaper Group
Author: Stephen Downing


Thank you for your article promoting the use of body cameras by the
Long Beach Police Department. The use of body cameras by our police
officers can be, like the president of the Los Angeles Police
Department's Board of Police Commissioners says, transformative and
historic. Use of body cameras should provide an immediate reduction in
personnel complaints, law suits and a savings in the millions from
legal settlements and jury awards currently pouring out of city
coffers. Police resources currently dedicated to investigations of
officer involved shootings, excessive force and other complaints of
misconduct can also be re-allocated to criminal investigations and
patrol deployments once the program is in place. All of this adds up
to to a greater contribution to public safety and enhanced respect for
our police officers.

I am putting my check in the mail today to Citywatch Foundation, P.O.
Box 15679, Long Beach, CA 90815-0679 to support implementation of a
LBPD body camera program.

However, I believe that public donations should be only a small part
of funding for the program. The City should direct the LBPD to
allocate its "slush fund" monies already in possession of the police
department to fund the majority of monies needed for full
implementation of a body camera program.

Over the past seven years LBPD narcotic enforcement (including raids
on legitimate medical marijuana dispensaries) has brought in
$3,529,751 from asset seizures made under the so-called equitable
sharing program launched by the federal government as a means of
leveraging local law enforcement to reallocate public safety resources
in order to fight the failed war on drugs.

The requirements of the federal "equitable sharing" program
specifically dictates that the $3.5 million distributed to the LBPD be
used for law enforcement purposes only. I do not know how the funds
have been allocated in the past or are currently being used, but I do
know that it is unlawful for such funds to be placed in the city's
general fund. Therefore, these monies should be readily available for
allocation to a Body Camera program, especially in light of the
monumental positives associated with such a program.

The "equitable share" of property seized under a corrupted federal
civil system, which imposes the burden of proof upon the property
owner, by the LBPD from its citizens, property owners, business owners
and residents allocated back to the LBPD by the federal government
over the past seven years is as follows:

2006 $ 27,577
2007 $ 472,108
2008 $ 548,927
2009 $1,350,661
2010 $ 502,617
2011 $ 156,255
2012 $ 471,606
TOTAL $3,529,751

Once the initial body camera program is deployed the cost savings
outlined above will easily off-set any perceived need for future
federal equitable sharing income, contribute to a higher level of
Constitutional policing, significantly reduce "nobel cause corruption"
within the police department and enhance both pubic safety and
police/community relations. It will also allow the LBPD to expand and
maintain the camera program and at the same time withdraw from the
federal equitable sharing program while avoiding an outcry from those
in city government who have become addicted to the federal drug money.

I urge withdrawal from the federal program because virtually 80% of
asset seizures made, and recognized by many as "policing for profit,"
are not accompanied by a criminal prosecution, promotes nobel cause
corruption among our police officers and diverts police resources away
from public safety policing in favor of the federal government's
failed drug war, especially when considered in light of the fact that
the construct of asset seizure provided under California law is fair,
just, ethical and requires a criminal conviction.

Stephen Downing
Deputy Chief, LAPD (ret.)
Resident, Long Beach
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