Fear of change mars L.A. security reform

first_img Ultimately, the OPS would call the Los Angeles Police Department for a full-blown police response. This should be rare, but when it’s required, it must be deemed high priority. The need for a standard, centralized system is overwhelming. City management currently often relies on contract services for municipal security. These nonunion forces provide substandard work, and should be limited only to truly temporary situations. Creating the OPS is a long-overdue change that now faces one last hurdle: The Los Angeles City Council, which will consider the consolidation Friday. Unfortunately, it’s never easy to reform an organization like L.A. city government, which is large, bureaucratic and typically has one of three responses to any new idea: “We’ve always done it this way. We never did it that way. We tried it once; it didn’t work.” It’s time for a new way of thinking. Julie Butcher is general manager of SEIU Local 347, which represents municipal employees in Los Angeles and other Southern California cities.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Let me tell you just how hard it is to make the city of Los Angeles change. Better than two years ago, it occurred to many people that it just doesn’t make sense for seven different agencies and departments in the city to do security and policing work. This was made tragically clear after 9-11, when those seven different departments couldn’t even talk to each other. So the proposed solution was to consolidate the various city agencies that police libraries, parks, the Convention Center, the zoo, Olvera Street and other areas – into a single Office of Public Safety. The OPS would improve the overall quality and intensity of the city’s internal law enforcement while delivering efficient, centralized security. It’s modeled after a similar public safety organization functioning in the county. But change, even something as obvious and necessary as better, more coordinated security, is always a tough sell in this town. Neighborhood activists hooked up with regional parks to worry about what might happen to “their” park ranger under centralized control. These groups have seemingly been unable to understand that the rangers will still be there – in even greater numbers – albeit in two uniforms (a different one for armed officers and the same one for the “traditional” rangers), and properly equipped to do the job in increasingly dangerous city parks. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORERose Parade grand marshal Rita Moreno talks New Year’s Day outfit and ‘West Side Story’ remake But the controversy has come not just from the public, but also from some of my colleagues in organized labor. At the end of a recent long meeting with a room full of very angry security officers who work for the library department, I had an out-of-body experience: Every one of the uniformed officers all of a sudden started chanting: “No change! No change!” Today, they are way past anger, fearful of being dominated by General Services’ special officers. This fear alternates with concern over the changing of the shape of their badges or the color of the patches on their uniforms. (No kidding.) The special officers, in turn, are worried about the pending “takeover” by the park rangers who, after all, are required to have four-year degrees. The chief of security used to be a park ranger and has long been accused of favoritism. Yet for all the concerns of this or that affected group, at its core, this is a civic discussion about the best way to deliver cost-effective security and public-safety services. The trend and tendency is rightly toward a tiered response: Internal policing would begin with entry-level security aides who greet, watch and provide information. At the next level would be trained, professional security officers, perhaps armed. Finally, there would be much more highly trained, physically fit, armed officers. last_img

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