Tag: CCW

LASD Allows Reserve Deputies To Carry Off-Duty Without a CCW

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department reversed its stance Thursday on requiring reserve deputies (other than those with full-time peace officer status) to obtain a concealed weapon permit in order to defend themselves. In deciding to finally honor the Law Enforcement Officer Safety Act of 2004 (known as “LEOSA”), LASD has determined that reserve deputies–who complete the same training and wear the same uniform as any full time deputy–no longer need to obtain a concealed weapons permit.

Though the timing of this move just two months before an election in which Sheriff McDonnell needs the financial and political support of wealthy and connected LASD reserves is suspicious, this is nonetheless welcome news to many.

The new reading of a law in effect since 2004 dramatically simplifies what has long been a CCW issuance process rife with differing standards, confusion and politically/financially-motivated abuse. In fact, at many stations reserves were not issued CCWs until they were off patrol training (which could take years) resulting in an unwritten and unsaid understanding that reserves working or traveling through high-crime areas (such as Los Angeles County) may just need to feloniously carry illegally until they were blessed with a CCW. Indeed, over the past year LASD.News understands many reserves have had their CCW applications returned to them for additional justification of their need to defend themselves; some have been denied outright. Also, as we previously reported, a number of retired deputies stated their CCWs had been revoked due to arm/hand injuries or because they retired due to stress-related reasons (presumably from engaging in just the kind of policework that would result in needing a CCW).

Federal and state laws on the issue of CCWs and who can carry what where differ so much that sometimes the safest solution is the most liberal. After all, a strict CCW policy then begs all kinds of questions over who is getting CCWs and who isn’t and why and why not, and what liability exists for who when someone gets into something. And that seems to be at play here, where, according to a letter from Sheriff McDonnell to reserves, LASD is both extending LEOSA coverage to reserves and encouraging them nonetheless to apply for a CCW anyway. No specific reason is given, so the lawyers were clearly at play here.

Why the change (however welcome it is)? We’re not sure. And a letter issued by Sheriff McDonnell on Thursday doesn’t say. Here are some possibilities:

The change was probably pushed for by the Reserve Leadership Team (led by big-time McDonnell donor/backer) Alan Skobin …who may or may not have been the only reserve to be issued a county car. (We don’t know for certain because the department has still not responded to public record requests on this from multiple requestors three months later…)

It never made a lot of sense for reserves to need a CCW when they were covered by LEOSA since 2004 (though there are certain instances where a CCW may still be helpful, such as when an off-duty reserve carries a gun onto school grounds).

Whatever the Reserve Leadership Team’s role was, LASD.News suspects a bigger reason is the onslaught of public record requests the Department has received in recent months over which LASD reserves and members of the public (mainly judges and prosectors) have active CCWs in 2018. Here is a list of CCWs LASD approved in the first five months of this year.

Perhaps this site’s prior reporting on the decline of the reserve program under Sheriff McDonnell has had something to do with efforts to improve it, as well as to recruit reserves, that have been announced in the past few months.

It is also likely that legal action apparently threatened against the Department by media organizations and the California Reserve Peace Officers Association (which all LASD reserves should join) forced McDonnell to take a step he could have taken any time in the last four years.

Which brings us to the timing of this decision. Coming two months before a close election, and as LASD.News receives unconfirmed reports of Sheriff McDonnell soliciting reserve deputies for campaign contributions in a dramatic break from his practice four years ago of not accepting money from deputies, the timing of throwing reserves a bone is certainly suspicious.

It will be important to keep an eye on McDonnell’s campaign contributions. Though of course we may not see all the campaign finance reporting until after the election…

If you are an LASD employee and have been hit up by Sheriff McDonnell or his team for a donation or to throw a fundraiser, please let us know at tips@lasd.news

This article will be updated as we learn more.

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McDonnell Destroys LASD Reserve Program

Update: Shortly after this article was posted on Monday, the California Reserve Peace Officers Association endorsed Bob Lindsey for Sheriff. Every LASD reserve should join CRPOA for protection from the Department and for reserve-focused representation, both in court and in Sacramento.  Now back to the article…!

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LASD’s Reserve Program is one of its most valuable assets. Or, it was.

LASD’s reservists were the engine behind $10 million per year in free labor to the county and contract cities before Jim McDonnell took office, and the backbone of our county charter-mandated search and rescue capability. At my station, I often saw reserves show up to fill spots in the schedule–they handled calls of all kinds, backed their partners, and got into some good police work. Some were always “getting on the patch”. They were always happy to be there, even when we weren’t. But those days are over. Given McDonnell’s lack of interest in all the things that have made LASD great, and the ability with which he is manipulated by people with their own agendas, he has managed to obliterate a proud and valuable asset it took the county 50 years to build in a little over three.  Consider:

  • The size of the reserve program has been cut in half since McDonnell took office between retirements, resignations and at-will terminations.The program stood at about 800 members before McDonnell took office, was at 657 in fall 2016, and is around 450 today. Of those, how many are actually, regularly working patrol?  50?  Maybe?
      • [EDITOR’S NOTE: We are working to validate the true number of current reserves. Some sources have said ~450; others have said it may be around 600. In either case, it’s down big time and people are working less than ever.]
    • With 250 or so reserves and volunteers assigned to search and rescue, the number of reserves patrolling (for free) the county and contract cities is probably the lowest its ever been. This at a time the department is down roughly 1,500 deputies with no end in sight.

Who are we talking about here? Reserve deputies are academy-trained volunteer deputy sheriffs. They serve for $1 per year work across the department based on their expertise and interests. The reserve program is a huge free labor pool–and a massive opportunity for the department to build bridges with the community.

Each one of these reserves is an ambassador of law enforcement and of LASD to their families, social and professional networks. They, and their power to influence and build bonds within the community, should be respected, not abused.

  • Is this a case of quality over quantity? Nope. Many of the reserves who have quit or retired did so because they were demoralized. Many have also been fired (without cause or due process), typically for the crime of doing police work.
  • Numerous reserves have also left LASD to become reserves–or go full time–at other agencies. In fact, one recent LASD Reserve of the Year can be found over at Glendale now. Given all the hassle and risk involved in starting someplace new, why would somebody do that…?

Now we have learned, reserves are essentially unable to obtain concealed weapons permits. When they apply to renew their existing permit, virtually 100% have been denied for lack of “good cause”–the same excuse McDonnell uses to refuse them to the public. To be clear: he is refusing CCWs to police officers. This comes just a month after LASD.News exclusively reported that McDonnell was also revoking CCWs from retired deputies. Obviously all the deputies he’s fired for nonsense are on their own, too. Who’s next?

  • It should be noted that state law does not require reserves to even obtain a CCW. LAPD simply allows its reserves to carry off-duty and it’s written on the back of their cards. LASD has chosen to require CCWs and is now making it impossible to get them. This puts deputies’ lives in danger. Indeed, given that several LASD reserves have saved lives through off-duty incidents, it puts the public in danger.
  • We are not talking about politically-connected Level 3 reserves/McDonnell donors here. We are talking about people who are fully trained, have put in their time and been pushing an LASD radio car since before McDonnell was a motor at LAPD.
  • McDonnell has also refused to extend Peace Officer Bill of Rights protections to reserves. Despite the fact that they do the same work as regular deputies and take the same risks, McDonnell has chosen to treat them as seventh-class citizens. He could extend POBR protection but has chosen not to.
  • LASD’s historic Reserve Forces Bureau was also recently marginalized from a Bureau to a “Detail”, losing the captain position that gave it internal credibility. Now it’s got less managerial firepower than a DUI checkpoint.
  • Its Operations Sergeant and several civilians recently retired all at once and the clerical staff have not been replaced. Now, reserves themselves are being asked (according to a May 8, 2018 email) to come in perform clerical work. Talk about a valuable program withering on the vine.
  • Seemingly the only person still hanging around Reserve Forces is the guy accused of manufacturing fake IDs for politically-connected donors!
  • As a result of RFB’s marginalization, reserves are unable to get training, including for things as basic as how to use in-car computers (MDCs) or continuing training on firearms, use of force, first aid or other basics.  This is what the reserves at my station tell me!  This as we now know desk personnel have long been unable to get training on how to handle 911 calls.
  • The Reserve recruitment website goes to an error page.
  • Ditto, the website for Reserve Forces Bureau.
  • Meanwhile, the last online issue of the reserve newsletter is from 2011.

It’s always darkest before the dawn–yet there is light at the end of this tunnel. On June 5, you (and everyone you know) will have the opportunity to elect Bob Lindsey to turn this ship around before McDonnell steers it even further into the rocks.

While we have not heard what Alex Villanueva’s position on the reserve program is, Lindsey often talks about the importance of “rebuilding” LASD’s reserve program and using its resources to better serve the community. And that’s exactly what LASD’s reserves, LASD as a whole, and the communities we serve need.