The commission's policy change had been in the making for nearly a year and was prompted, at least in part, by Police Commission Executive Director Richard Tefank, a former Buena Park police chief who has long said he believes the panel violates the law by releasing too much information about shootings.
In a letter to the commission last week, Tefank
summarized several state laws that he
said indicate that officers' names "may" be deemed private personnel information.
concerns were echoed by leaders of the Los Angeles Police Protective League
, the union that represents LAPD officers.
Union officials said that they discussed the matter with Tefank
and that he
suggested they threaten litigation if they wanted to see a change in the commission's policy.
acknowledged advising the union to write a letter documenting its concerns but said he
did not recall telling officials to threaten litigation.
"I don't believe I did it, but if they say I did, I mean, that's fine," Tefank
After receiving the union's letter in the spring of 2005, Tefank
said, the commission sought a legal opinion from the city attorney.
said the commission received that opinion late last year.
said the city attorney concluded that officers' names had to be withheld from the public.
said the commission discussed the matter at least twice in closed session — the threat of a lawsuit, he
added, made it legal for commissioners to discuss it privately.
The commissioners, he
said, voted unanimously to change the policy.
In a subsequent interview, however, Tefank
said there had been no formal vote and commissioners had merely agreed that the policy should be changed.
declined to provide a copy of the legal opinion.