LOS ANGELES (AP) — At least six former officers have requested a reopening of their termination cases since the Los Angeles Police Department started investigating allegations by a former officer who left a trail of violence to avenge his firing.
Police Chief Charlie Beck reopened the case of Christopher Dorner and ordered a review of the LAPD disciplinary system after Dorner posted a manifesto online accusing the department of unjustly firing him. He also vowed to wage warfare on its officers and their families.
Police Protective League President Tyler Izen said he will ask the chief to review the new requests. He called the decision in Dorner's case unprecedented and said it "has left many of our members in absolute limbo."
"Because, if the department does investigations and they're satisfied with those investigations, then what do they hope to learn from this review?" Izen said. "And if they are not satisfied with those investigations, why are they doing them without being satisfied in the first place?"
The department has conducted "biopsies" on cases in the past, but the officers involved were usually unaware of the action, he said. Such internal decisions are often made to provide training or learning opportunities, Izen added.
In the Dorner case, Beck has said the review is being conducted to ensure public confidence in the department.
At Tuesday's Police Commission meeting, Beck said he expects that review to be completed in a couple months. The results will be reported to the Police Commission, the department's civilian oversight board.
The department has also started a series of internal audits and held meetings to look at the overall disciplinary system, Beck said.
"We're doing additional work within the department to discuss what the perception of fairness is for the discipline system," Beck said.
That process will look at perceptions of fairness when dealing with race, gender and rank, and will involve input from officers and command staff, Beck said.
He said many requests for reviews from former officers involve files that are old, but the department will look nonetheless.
"If people bring forward issues relative to their Board of Rights or their firing that appear to have substance, I'll have somebody look at them, do a biopsy, and make sure they were done the way that they should have been done," Beck said.
Some people in the department have said the reopening of the Dorner case is a no-win situation.
Commission President Andrea Sheridan Ordin acknowledged the difficulty involved in reopening the Dorner case but said the review is necessary.
"There will be people who said we shouldn't have said anything at all; then you have a group of people say they don't talk to us, they don't care about us, and we have legitimate concerns, and no one's answering them," Ordin said.
"I'm not saying there's any single right answer, but we just have to believe that more information, accurate information, well-thought-through information and recommendations are better than ignoring it," she added.
Ordin, a longtime attorney, was a member of the Christopher Commission, which examined the LAPD after the beating of Rodney King.
"What you want is a department that can police itself and can be seen to police itself," she said.
As the department reviews the Dorner case, the inspector general is performing an independent review of Dorner's file and the allegations he has made, police officials said.
Commissioner Richard Drooyan said Dorner's case brings up a significant issue for the department: What to do when a person perceives misconduct, reports it, and upon investigation those allegations are unfounded. Dorner, who alleged his training officer kicked a mentally disabled man, was dismissed for making a false report.
"How do you make sure that you are punishing anyone who makes a false allegation or makes a false statement, while also at the same time not discouraging people from bringing potential misconduct to the attention of the department?" Drooyan asked. "That's the issue raised by this in my judgment."
Authorities say Dorner killed four people, including two law enforcement officers, and wounded three others during his rampage to avenge his firing.
Izen said officers have called the union to report disturbing public support for Dorner, including the message "Dorner lives" scrawled on walls and Facebook groups backing Dorner, who was found dead after a Feb. 12 shootout.
About a dozen protesters at Tuesday's meeting demanded an independent review of Dorner's claims.
"We refuse to be able to continue to be duped that Bonnie can investigate Clyde," said David Dang, an organizer for Occupy The Hood Los Angeles.
In the meantime, Izen said the union's legal team is reviewing requests to reopen cases. Izen said officers are hoping to get more clarity from the department about the review process and what it might mean for them and their own disciplinary process.
"This case was done, and went to the courts," Izen said. "So I don't know where it goes from here. We're waiting for the chief to tell us."