Dear Editor – CCPOA Responds to Charges of Racism

Dear Editor,

The Culver City Police Officer’s Association would like to comment about the recent article written by Annette Morasch that leveled accusations that Culver City Police Department (CCPD) is a racist organization. The basis for this conclusion was gleaned from Morasch’s public records request which initially cast a wide net to obtain a large amount of raw data. As with any large amount of raw data, numerous conclusions can be drawn from the overall statistics to quickly paint a picture that the any author wants to convey. In Morash’s article, she attempted to paint a picture that CCPD is a racist organization. She was very convincing, but that is not unexpected because she is an attorney and knows how to craft a compelling argument.

The joint public statement released by Acting Chief Cid and CC Attorney’s office provided context and a more detailed look at the data that was provided to Morash. I would like to draw your attention to how Morash drew a conclusion, based on the raw statistical information, that our organization is obviously targeting children of color and therefor racist. In the public response released by Culver City, you will see that the arrest stats she uses to make her case are a combination of overall arrests from two full years. Moreover, during that 2-year period 75% of those arrests were the result of radio calls, not observations or self-initiated activities involving racial profiling as the article suggested. Our officers are duty bound to respond to calls for service after an alleged crime had been committed. Morash would like convey the idea that these arrests are the result of self-initiated activity by CCPD officers and therefore prove that we are targeting people of color. I repeat, 75% of theses arrests were a result of a radio call after a crime had occurred.

Approximately 25% of these arrests were in response to calls for service for crimes such as robbery, carjacking, residential burglary and assault with a deadly weapon. I am sure most citizens would agree those types of calls demand our utmost attention, regardless of the ethnicity of the suspects. 50 % of the overall arrests were for petty theft and were not in-custody arrests (meaning that an individual was not physically taken to the station and booked), they were issued a citation in the field. Due to the fact that petty theft is a misdemeanor, these citations are thus counted as an arrest even though the majority of those individuals were never brought to, or booked in at CCPD. When we receive a petty theft call after an individual has been detained by loss prevention officers, we are obligated to respond to the radio call for service, accept the arrest, issue a citation, and complete the necessary paperwork. We do not complete arrest report in those cases, we are not called upon to appear in court on those cases, we merely complete paperwork that is required of us by law. Completing this process allows the loss prevention agents and the accused to have their day in court. This is what is referred to as a private-persons arrest. These citations account for 50% of the arrest statistics Morash used to paint us with a broad brush and label us a racist organization even though they were generated by calls for service.

Morash painted the picture she wanted to present because she is a staunch supporter of the de-fund the police movement. Her motives were made clear when she leveled that same baseless accusations against our department during the Culver City Council meeting on June 22nd. When she spoke, she urged the city council to adopt the recommendations of the Culver City Action Network (CCAN https://culvercityaction.com/) and reduce the police budget by 50% within the next 90 days. CCAN’s demand letter referred to the city of Seattle as a model about how to reduce police services in Culver City. We all know what a disaster the “Seattle” experiment has been. Morash knows in order to garner support for the defund the police movement, she must ultimately paint our organization with the broad brush of racism. She is attempting to argue her point in the court of public opinion using incomplete and out of context statistical data which allows her to level wildly sensational accusations.

Our officers strongly condemn the treatment of George Floyd by the Minneapolis Police Department. His loss of life was criminal and should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Moreover, our officers recognize that communities of color have been underserved for many generations and we are constantly looking for ways to improve our relationships with all members of the public. We are constantly looking for way to build relationships with the community demonstrated by our participation in programs that include Safe Routes to School, Coffee with a Cop, National Night Out, The Culver City Police Citizen’s Academy, and the Culver City Police Juvenile Diversion Program to name a few. Our officers regularly attend state mandated training involving cultural diversity, implicit bias, and force de-escalation. In addition to our ongoing training, our organization spearheaded the proposal to have the city council fund in car cameras, as well as Body Worn Cameras, to improve transparency and to build trust within the community. CCPD has made great strides over the last two decades to become one of the most effective and professional police organizations in the country. Our department members come from a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds and we pride ourselves on our cultural diversity and sense of inclusion. Our sworn personnel makeup is 39% White, 38% Hispanic, 10% Black, 6% Asian, 4% Pacific Islander, and 3% Middle Eastern. CCPD is far more diverse that the community we serve!

We remain committed to continuing to improve the service we provide the residents and visitors of Culver City. But painting a picture that places blame on CCPD for societal failures is woefully misdirected considering we do not write the laws we are called upon to enforce, and we do not fund the social service programs that are in place. Writing laws and funding social programs are the work of politicians, not a function of law enforcement. I hope the elected officials who are charged with those responsibilities (funding social programs and authoring laws) might actually do their job and not look to blame our profession for their repeated failures. Moreover, I hope they will not defund the police before they implement real solutions that actually bear fruit in the way of lower crime and increased safety for the community we serve.

Sincerely,
The CCPOA Board.

Ivan Hernandez-President
Roy Lopez- 1st Vice President
Ryan Thompson-2nd Vice President
Charles Koffman-Secretary
Jack Witter-Treasure
www.culvercitysymphony.org

10 Comments

  1. This national narrative has gotten out of hand with the “bone the police” for our own failures of a society and more locally, as a community. Defunding the police will not only allow more to take advantage with slower response times to calls, and lack of personnel to handle the overwhelming and abundant lawlessness. After reading many of the CCPD’s statements, the allegations made against the department, and having attended their community events, I can attest that the men and women are making great efforts to be a part of the community. CCAN is attempting to continue the divisiveness and destroy this community. As an attorney, wouldn’t Ms Morasch know the points stated above? Why did she leave them out? Why did she not present them? Because she is an attorney. Anyone remember OK? HELLO! wake up Culver City. Those who support a SAFE and HARMONIOUS Culver City, SPEAK UP before it’s gone!!!

  2. Personally I’m not a big fan of any dialogue that assumes sides; in my opinion we are all the same side in wanting both a just and safe city. I thank Annette for raising questions and giving CCPD the chance to address troubling perceptions and troubling facts.

    Last time I checked NObody is taking the position that CCPD doesn’t need reform, including CCPD itself. And I agree and think CCPD deserves credit for the steps that Chief Bixby has taken in the past decade; an absolutely.

    But it doesn’t do any one in this process any good in to whitewash records or attack individuals asking hard questions. Please do share info like this – ALL of it / help us all understand how these numbers can possibly make sense.

    For example, please explain more about the loss prevention officer detentions. Am i following correctly that 50% of the citations of all juveniles in Culver City are the result of calls from loss prevention officers? What are “loss prevention officers” exactly? And where are these happening? Is this all Fox Hills Mall related, are loss prevention officers so called “mall cops”?

    Thank you in advance for explaining more.

  3. I had just sent an email to Mr. Levinstein in regard to the content of his comment, but it ‘bounced’ as a fake email address, so comment will now be deleted. We only host comments from real people.

  4. Lila Swenson,

    Yes loss prevention officers are private security at work at the mall or stores such as Target, when they observe a petty theft the place that individual under private person and rest contact CCPD who then excepts the proper person to rest and issues to citation to that individual for a court date.Yes loss prevention officers are private security that work at the mall or stores such as target when they observe a petty theft they place that individual under private persons arrest and contact CCPD who then excepts the private person arrests and issues to citation to that individual.

  5. Annette Morasch is doing nothing more than twisting the statistics to try and validate her support of defunding CCPD. Her misleading narrative of accusing CCPD officers of being racist and targeting certain groups is Unfounded and ridiculous.Thank you for this open letter to the editor which does a great job of helping the public understand the real meaning behind the statistics. Annette should follow her convictions and not call on CCPD or any police organization for support.

  6. Hi,
    Having worked Loss Prevention for a long time and am currently working to get me law degree, let me try and explain. Loss Prevention (LP) does not exist in every store, but in places they don’t exist the manager/owner/ or even an employee will act as a reporting person.

    In Culver City specifically, we have two very large targets, a very large Westfield Mall, the largest grossing Costco on the west coast, two very busy BestBuys and a ton of small retail stores. Not to mention, other non related retail thefts. When someone calls the police- they show up, but they are not responsible for placing that person under arrest, it is the person who called the police and only if they are desirous of prosecution. These are typically considered non felony offenses that result in a private person’s arrest. In these cases, law enforcement is typically just the middle person.

    Before I get to the next step, please remember in California we voted to “dumb” down or reclassify a variety of criminal offenses. Certain crimes especially at this level- don’t allow officers to use any discretion and they must honor the private persons arrest as long as it is lawful.

    So back to the original discussion, after an officer accepts the private persons arrest the officer must identify the person. If someone has proper identification, and does not have any warrants for their arrest they are issued a citation and released. If they have no identification they are transported to the station to be fingerprinted in order to properly identify.

    In the case of a juvenile, depending on the crime, the officers will need to release them to a parent or guardian. In most cases the officers are stuck with these juveniles because they either can not find an adult or the juveniles cannot be identified. For the most part these will be your most common citations, and they will be released on scene.

    I actually have to credit CCPD on this one, a long time ago they started a first of its kind program called diversion. They would work with Lower offense juveniles instead of charging them formally with an actual crime. Recently Chief Bixby re-introduced this program. The program gives juveniles with these low risk crimes a chance receive counseling with one of the schools in Culver City.

    Overall CCPD is not to blame for this issue. We have a busy city, and unfortunately most of these offenses are caused by juveniles. I would love to see more data but from what’s been released – I do not believe they are hiding anything.

  7. Thank you Mr Casillas. I think I recall you, are you a retired officer? I think maybe you were SSO when my son was at Farragut. At any rate, I appreciate the information. Can you – or if you can’t speak for the police on the numbers, someone else with CCPD – answer a few more questions I have after reading all these letters?

    When the police are called because of one of these private arrests do the police have to issue a citation/arrest or do they have discretion? In other words are 100% of the juveniles that are detained by these loss prevention officers cited?

    Also with regard to the other 25% of the arrests that are being discussed here, the ones that are at police discretion, what is the racial breakdown on those please?

    Thank you.

  8. Lila,
    Thank you for your response and for asking such insightful questions. The stats that were used to present a detailed look at the issue were made public by the response from Chief Cid and the city Attorney. Because they are an open source, we used these detailed stats to explain how Anette’s original post was obviously misleading.

    As to your questions in regards to weather 100% of juveniles are cited, or in relation to the final 25% of arrests in this category, we do not have them. Although the entire POA Board are sworn employees and could access the information you asked for, it would be unethical for any of us to access this information and release it without first filling the same public records request that began this conversation. Using department resources for personal reasons or association business is not only a violation of department policy, but in some cases against the law. Therefore, we only used statistics that had already been publicly posted to give the readers a more accurate look at those specific arrest numbers, and particularly how CCPD came into contact with those individuals.

    Sincerely,

    The CCPOA Board
    Ivan Hernandez-President
    Roy Lopez- 1st Vice President
    Ryan Thompson-2nd Vice President
    Charles Koffman-Secretary
    Jack Witter-Treasure

  9. Sounds like another case of someone’s opinion versus FACTS, and like most cases the individual, Annette Morash, has zero credibility, experience and knowledge in policing. It’s pretty obvious she’s driven by single-minded emotion and not logic.

    Have we reached the ultimate stage of absurdity where CCPD is responsible for people’s poor choices? HOW ABOUT WE DON’T STEAL OR COMMIT CRIME! If someone chooses to come to our city and commit a crime, no matter what his or her age is, there should be a consequence. It’s that simple.

    The fact is, crime is being committed in our city constantly and it’s rapidly rising. It’s easy to criticize from the comfort of your desk or while hiding behind your smartphone. It would be nice to see CCAN and Annette Morash get some field experience, face criminals, go on a ride along (apologies to that poor Officer she has to ride with), and talk face to face with real victims, I’m sure they’d have a difference of opinion… Stop using CCPD as your scapegoat and stop misconstruing stats to justify your own personal agendas.

    To the Culver City Police Department, you are AWESOME! We greatly appreciate you and support you.

    DEFEND CCPD!

  10. I have been a long time Culver City resident dating back to early 1980’s. Culver City has been one of safest cities to live in thanks to our Culver City Police Department. I am absolutely against defunding the Culver City Police. The whole narrative that systemic racism exists in all police departments and therefore it should be defunded is ridiculous. The higher percentage of crime rate in black and brown population does not mean that the Culver City police department is a racist organization. Many of those who commit crimes in Culver City do not live in Culver City. And it is a known fact that the crime rate in black communities are higher. Many factors including poor socioeconomic status play a much larger role than racial profiling by police. Over 50 percent of victims killed in America are blacks and over 93 percent of them were killed by blacks. How does racism by police account for that fact? Does the fact that there was only one Asian juvenile offender in Ms. Morash’s letter mean Culver City police are systematically favoring Asians then? After all, Asians make up 16 percent of Culver City population. Why is the crime rate so much lower for Asians? Shoplifting is taboo in Asian community but is less vilified in other race. That is why shoplifting rate is so much lower for Asians than other race. Violent crime rates are also lower and it cannot be explained by systemic favoritism of Asians either. Every human being should be treated equal and if anyone commits crime, no racial group should get favorable treatment. There are bad apples in every organization and one cannot judge a whole group based on isolated cases if any existed in Culver City Police Department. Overwhelming majority of Culver City police officers are good people and accusing them of being a racist organization is absolutely wrong. By defunding the police, Culver City will be a less safe place to live in.

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