Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass Calls for Lowering the Bar for New Recruits, Rooting out of ‘Right-Wing Extremist’ Police

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass calls for rooting out officers with associations to “right-wing domestic extremist organizations” and removing “obstacles” for new police recruits. 

Bass is looking to diversify the LAPD further and remove “obstacles” for police recruits who initially failed to qualify for training. Police union leaders are questioning the move after reviewing a summary of the mayor’s public safety goals. 

The summary of Bass’ goals for police reform includes dates that the department must report back regarding progress made. It consists of a list of provisions as well. One condition maintains that the deputy mayor will work with a “third party” to “evaluate the personnel process and identify obstacles to entry for recruits who fail to qualify for training.”

“We think that particular provision or that goal or that idea is dangerous,” said spokesperson Tom Saggau of the Los Angeles Police Protective League (LAPPL).

“If you have police officers that can’t make minimum qualifications or attained minimum standards, for instance, there are recruits that have been in the academy that just can’t score the minimum requirements for a physical fitness test,” added Saggau. “One hundred is the maximum score, 50 is acceptable. There are folks that are scoring under 10. That’s just dangerous.”

Mayor Bass’ provision states all recommendations will be considered

Mayor Bass’ provision states that proposals to eliminate any obstacles will be considered, especially those that pertain to “ethnic groups disproportionately left out of new officer training.”

According to Saggau, the provision calls for lowering standards in the police department for new hires who didn’t qualify initially during training are shown to not “possess the mental fitness or the physical fitness ability to be a police officer.”

“That’s just a recipe for disaster,” said Saggau. “So, we think lowering standards is a dangerous precedent.”

An additional provision in the summary of goals seeks to “identify, discipline, and/or terminate officers associated with right-wing domestic extremist organizations” utilizing data from the Justice Department. The LAPD must report back with progress on the provision by August.

“We [LAPPL] think it ought to be right-wing, left-wing, foreign and domestic. We think that there are more organizations that members of law enforcement should not be associated with, other than the narrow group that was listed in that document.”

Additionally, Bass called for training measures to be updated to comply with the “heightened standard of use of deadly force required,” the expansion of the System-wide Mental Assessment Team and Mental Evaluation Unit, and the implementation of moves to reduce the number of officer-involved shootings. 

The mayor told the Los Angeles Times that she is making “crime reduction personnel reform, alternative response, and community policing” a priority after her goals summary release. Bass is also looking to hire additional homicide detectives to work on cases while confronting staff shortages due to departures and retirements. 

“Bass sees the dire need for more officers. The question is, how do you get there? And we are totally committed and completely supportive of civilianizing positions where police officers should be doing police work and civilians should be doing civilian work,” said Saggau.