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The union that represents the rank-and-file members of the Los Angeles Police Department filed court papers Tuesday in a bid to halt the implementation of a policy that would require anti-gang and narcotics officers to disclose their personal finances. Officials with the Los Angeles Police Protective League said they expect a federal judge to rule on the request for a temporary restraining order before Sunday June 15, when the city policy is scheduled to take effect. The financial disclosure policy, which is intended to prevent corruption among police officers who handle confiscated cash and contraband, is required by a federal consent decree under which the LAPD must operate.
Under the impending policy, officers in anti-gang and narcotics units will be required to disclose all of their sole and jointly owned assets, liabilities and income every two years. Refusal to disclose such information will bar officers from working in those units. The Police Commission agreed to the policy last December, and in January, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa directed city lawyers to work out an agreement that would bar defense attorney from using officers’ personal information as evidence in criminal trials.
The financial disclosure requirement is strongly opposed by the Police Protective League. “Members in the affected units have informed us that they would rather request reassignment than to fill out this unwarranted and illegal paperwork. If we do not prevail in obtaining injunctive relief, it will be time to demonstrate that unity by requesting reassignment,” the LAAPL Board of Directors wrote in an email to its members.
The mayor’s office had no immediate comment on the litigation, and a spokesman for the City Attorney’s Office said he could not discuss ongoing litigation. The LAPD anticipates that the policy will apply to 600 officers. The two-page forms are to be placed in sealed envelopes and retained in the chief’s office.
Officers will not be required to provide LAPD auditors with their bank account numbers. Santa Ana police officers and members of the FBI, CIA and U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission are required to complete financial disclosure documents, Gerald Chaleff, who oversees the LAPD’s Consent Decree Bureau, testified in January. The Police Protective League contends that those forms are vastly different that the one the LAPD would use, as they do not require specific account information. Eight years ago the city of Los Angeles agreed to have the LAPD be overseen by a court appointed federal monitor, a move that forestalled a U.S. Justice Department lawsuit that would have alleged a pattern of civil rights discrimination by the department.
The city of Los Angeles and U.S. Justice Department presented a draft financial disclosure policy to the federal court last year, but it was rejected. The LAPD’s failure to institute such a policy was a factor in a federal court’s decision in May 2006 to extend the consent decree by three years, until June 15, 2009.