Who likes cops?
Not me. As a rational citizen who is concerned with safety and social order, I've accepted the need for them. But I can't say I've had many positive experiences with police officers. The way I see it, my tax dollars fund an institution made up of individuals who carry deadly weapons and are looking for ways to jam me up. The particular Los Angeles version of this institution is especially problematic, sporting a long history of brutality and racism. It's so fucked up that I question the very moral fiber of a person who decides to be a cop in LA. While I'm sure many are good-intentioned civil servants, the system in which they participate actively nullifies their best qualities. Just like our political system, no matter how good you try to be, you play in the dirt, you get dirty.
I bring this up only to be clear about my inherent biases towards the LAPD, seeing as Charter Amendment C concerns civilian review of police conduct. As it stands now, when a cop fucks up, the case is sent before a Board of Rights panel. This panel has the final authority to determine guilt and prescribe a penalty in all misconduct cases brought before it. As of now, this panel is made up of two police officers with the rank of Captain or higher and one civilian member. (Before 1992, there were no civilians on the Board of Rights.) If the amendment passes, an officer can choose between this current option OR a new option: an all civilian review board.
The measure has been submitted by the Mayor and the Los Angeles Protective League as a way to increase police accountability. But organizations such as the ACLU and Black Lives Matter have been calling bullshit on this, and for good reason. The first thing that stinks about C is that the amendment provides an ordinance for who these civilian review board members will be, but prior to the election, this ordinance has yet to be drafted. Basically, if we agree to this change, we're trusting the LA City Council, in its infinite apolitical wisdom, not to stack the pool with ex-cops and departmental cronies.
Secondly, this measure is supported by the police union. I've never known a union to support a measure that doesn't favor its members, so right there, we have a problem. More accountability and oversight is in fundamental opposition to bad cops keeping their jobs. Imagine the teachers' union agreeing to a panel of parents deciding which teachers get to continue teaching every year. I can't see that happening.
What's further problematic about this measure is the timing. I'll quote an LA Times editorial here, because they said it better than I ever could: "The sneakiest part of the measure is the May 16 ballot itself. There are runoffs in two council districts, but otherwise Charter Amendment C is the only thing on the ballot, so few voters — other than those rallied by the Police Protective League and city politicians that crave the union’s support — are expected to bother. Voters can, and should, resist that cynical tactic and the ill-considered change in police discipline by voting 'No.'"
I've also read articles circulated by various activist groups noting the evidence suggests that civilian members of the Board of Rights have been more lenient on cops than police officers themselves. And since we don't yet know exactly who will make up the pool from which the Board of Rights members will be chosen--some suggest it will be ex-arbitrators and lawyers, not community members--I don't see how in good conscience anyone committed to reforming an institution with deep systemic problems, problems which threaten the very lives and well-being of the communities they are sworn to protect, can vote in favor of this.