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Police board under fire

Commission members must have their backgrounds checked after one is found to have had a DUI in 2007.

June 06, 2009|By Christopher Cadelago

CITY HALL — Seven police commissioners, two of them newly sworn in, will undergo background checks amid revelations from the city attorney that one of the appointees is serving probation for drunk driving.

City Council members Tuesday directed city officials to conduct the review after City Atty. Dennis Barlow informed them that newly confirmed Police Commissioner John Brady, a well-known civil rights activist and chairman of the regional Human Relations Council, was found to have a criminal record, according to a review of Los Angeles Superior Court documents.

The drunk-driving conviction, for which Brady is currently on probation, made its way to the council in a confidential memo from Barlow after Police Chief Tim Stehr received word of the arrest from police officers. “It would be very difficult to have that person do it at this point when they wouldn’t even qualify to go on a ride-along,” Stehr told the council Tuesday. “In my opinion, it’s the perception. I had officers who came to me who were involved in this and they were taken aback that [the individual] would be a police commissioner at this point.”

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Brady was sworn in this week and said he plans to attend the commission’s meeting Wednesday, before the matter comes back to the council in two weeks.

“It has been a wonderful effort against me,” said Brady, who argued the memo was akin to the Police Department ousting police commissioners who serve at the pleasure of the City Council. “Chief Stehr is an excellent persuader. One of Chief Stehr’s main jobs is to keep Chief Stehr’s job, and that is on the line.”

He added that the apparent effort to remove him from the commission was “ill-timed” given the recent lawsuit filed against the Police Department in which a lieutenant and four officers allege myriad discriminatory practices.

“I thought that my ability to marshal the resources that I have available to me through my connections with county, state and federal organizations to help us get through this problem would be advantageous at this time,” Brady said.

Still, Vice Mayor Anja Reinke contended that the possibility of a negative public perception of the commission could not be ignored.

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