LAPD chief Michel Moore says that as part of a broader effort to reform the department and improve its accountability to the public, the chief should be empowered to fire officials who have violated the law or violated the department's guidelines .
"The change I'm looking for is the boss's ability to be the boss, and it's really nothing more than that," Moore told the NBC4 I team on Friday.
According to the applicable rules, the chief can refer officials accused of misconduct to an internal administrative procedure known as the "Board of Rights", but can only recommend a punishment. The board, which consists of two LAPD officers at command level and a third external representative, can follow the boss's recommendations or reduce the punishment. The boss cannot appeal.
Moore said he was worried in a recent case where he was certain that an official would be released for serious misconduct. Although the officer was found guilty in an administrative trial, the board reduced the sentence and the officer remains employed by the LAPD.
Speaking to the public, Moore says he appears to have the power to fire and punish, and since the public expects LA's top policeman to be accountable, he says the authority should be returned to his office.
"I am responsible for them, people hold the chief of police accountable, and yet I do not have the authority, so I think this is an opportunity for reform," he said.
California has certain stringent data protection laws that apply only to police officers, making it difficult for departments to show the public that misconduct has been subject to discipline, including suspensions or layoffs.
"I also believe that the ability to speak more freely about discipline will demonstrate our transparency to the public and that we will hold our people accountable," said the boss.
The limits of a LAPD chief's right to resign are part of the city's charter, which controls its government and bureaucracy systems. The rules go back more than 50 years, and Moore said they were originally introduced to prevent corrupt city guides from taking vindictive action against employees.