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LAPD chief still believes in car impound exception

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POSTED September 29, 2013 5:08 p.m.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said Saturday he is “disappointed” in a judge’s ruling striking down a policy that made it easier for unlicensed drivers to keep their cars following traffic stops. He added he looks forward to the ruling being appealed.

On Friday, Beck ordered his officers to stop enforcing Special Order 7 until further notice.

He said the move was made on the advice of the city attorney after Superior Court Judge Terry Green refused last week to set aside his ruling declaring that the order violated California’s vehicle code.

“I am disappointed in this court’s decision and believe it inappropriately undermines the Police Department’s authority to lawfully direct the conduct of its officers,” Beck said in a statement. “I look forward to the next phase of the judicial process.”

Immigrant rights groups are expected to appeal. They say seizing and impounding the vehicles of immigrants who can’t obtain driver’s licenses is unfair.

Special Order 7 allowed police officers to let unlicensed drivers keep their cars if they could produce valid ID, proof of insurance and vehicle registration papers.

The police union challenged the policy, saying it put officers in the middle of a legal dispute over unlicensed drivers.

Beck said the policy was vetted by the city’s Police Commission and reviewed by both the mayor and City Council before it was put into effect. He said it was written with advice from both the city attorney and California’s attorney general.

With the policy suspended, Beck’s office issue a statement saying officers would continue to consider “the totality of the circumstances” when deciding whether to impound a vehicle. The statement added that police would also work to ensure the fourth amendment to the U.S. Constitution, barring unreasonable search and seizure, is not violated.

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