OPS was created to consolidate security forces in the City, an effort that would have completely dissolved the Library police, the Zoo police, the Park Rangers, and the old GSD Security police in favor of a "one-size-fits-all" juggernaut if the process had gone strictly as planned.
Upon the creation of OPS in 2002, Chief Gary Newton hired and promoted friends and coworkers who were either less qualified, unqualified, or were his biggest personal supporters. Captain Richard Musquiz, hired by Newton, was the most obvious liability. In an incident reminiscent of two recent widely-publicized police violence incidents, Musquiz had previously been found guilty of seriously beating a suspect who was detained and in handcuffs. He was fired by the City of Huntington Park for the incident and later lost his appeal in court.
Newton, himself, had allegedly been illegally promoted to chief of the Department of Recreation and Parks' Ranger unit only a little over a year earlier. When made chief, Newton had been a senior officer less than the required two years.
Gary Newton's activities as chief of OPS were far from news to City officials. The City, the Mayor, and Councilmember Wendy Greuel clearly knew the man they had chosen to run their new police force was a risk back in 2005. At that time, security officers in GSD presented a detailed letter to the City Council outlining Newton's illegal activities and questionable hiring practices. This letter formed the basis of the lawsuit settled today. Greuel allegedly admitted knowledge of the issues with Newton in discussions with private parties, union representatives, and City employees as early as 2003.
It's curious that today, Gary Newton remains firmly in place as the Chief of the Office of Public Safety. Meanwhile, Ed Boks was forced by Villaraigosa to resign as general manager of Animal Services for being found guilty in March 2009 of eerily similar activities in his prior job with the City of New York. The Office of Public Safety's Oversight Committee does meets tomorrow evening and this verdict may be discussed there.
The creation of OPS as a deadly-use-of-force agency* was the brainchild of Wendy Greuel and Jim Hahn, supposedly as an efficiency measure that the CAO claimed would save the City less than $1 million annually. In 2008-09, LA's second police force was budgeted at an incredible $27 million, a budget that has been inflated every year with little comment from the City Clowncil since the force's inception.
The City can now add $1.3 million to OPS's total financial burden. Then add the outcome of the impending lawsuits to recover court costs and attorneys' fees. Now that's efficiency, LA City Clowncil-style.
So what's the over/under that our new City Controller will do an impartial audit of OPS anytime soon? At least Mayor Sam knows where Antonio can get some more police officers real cheap.
*OPS officers are definitely armed. Although OPS has some
unarmed security officers, the office is a POST-accredited
armed agency patrolling the Zoo, parks, libraries,
and public buildings. They are authorized to use
deadly force under specific circumstances.
Labels: Chief Gary Newton, consolidation, General services police, jim hahn, library police, mayor antonio villaraigosa, Office of Public Safety, OPS, park rangers, richard musquiz, wendy greuel, zoo police