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February 07, 2006
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L.A. stops giving out names of officers involved in shootings

The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES- The city Police Commission is no longer releasing the names of officers involved in shootings.

The Police Commission made the change, overturning a 25-year-old policy, because officers' identities are protected under state law, said commission President John W. Mack.

Police union officials had long argued that releasing officers' names could expose them to danger, and union official had indicated they were prepared to sue over the disclosures, said Hank Hernandez, the organization's general counsel.

"This has nothing to do with whether or not the media should have access or the public should have access to this information," said Bob Baker, the LAPD union president. "There are people who could use (this information) for not legitimate purposes. And that's what our concern is."

The commission decided to make the change at a meeting two months ago, officials said.

Critics of the change say officers have to be made accountable for their actions.

"Part of the bargain when you get a badge and a gun is accountability," said Jeffrey C. Eglash, a former inspector general for the Police Commission. "Although police officers, like any employees, have an interest in privacy, their jobs are unlike any other in that they have the power to arrest and to use deadly force."

A week after the change, the commission unveiled a plan to "provide greater transparency" by posting detailed summaries of police shootings on the Internet. Officers' names are not included in those summaries.






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