US Department of Justice Findings
Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks
IPD Use of Force Policies Flawed
By Francis Taylor
Sentinel Staff WriterÂ
The long and eagerly-anticipated findings of the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) review of the policies and practices of the Inglewood Police Department, particularly the use of force by the Inglewood Police Department field personnel and the manner in which those incidents were investigated, were recently released in a 33-page letter to Inglewood Mayor Roosevelt Dorn.
According to a local news report, the DOJ “has found significant flaws in the way Inglewood police oversee use-of-force incidents and investigate complaints against officers and has proposed a host of reforms to help ease fear and distrust among city residents.”
The civil rights inquiry demanded by citizens and formally requested by a number of elected officials, most notably Congresswoman Maxine Waters, following a series of police involved shootings which reached a high-point in 2008, illuminates a condition that has been the focal point for discussion, debate, and fear among many Inglewood residents for some time.
The Los Angeles Sentinel reported many of the incidents in the City of Inglewood where it was alleged that IPD officers killed unarmed suspects in the course of their pursuit; including the killing of an unarmed man attempting to flee from the site of a shooting at a hamburger restaurant on Crenshaw and Manchester Boulevard, the killing of an unarmed man on Victor Avenue in Inglewood, and a postal worker who had been asleep in his home when, it was alleged that IPD officers responded to the wrong address and fatally shot him at his front door, to name a few.
A local news agency reported that, “five of the 11 people shot and killed by Inglewood police between 2003 and 2008 were unarmed.”
Candlelight Vigils for the deceased victims displayed signs, banners, and cries of police misconduct, use of excessive force, lack of training and experience, insensitivity to the community it exists to serve, lack of familiarization with community’s residents, and police officers who do not live, send their children to school-in, or otherwise socialize in the community, were some of the charges leveled by community members against some members of the IPD.
IPD Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks, who assumed the leadership role of a police department already under criticism for allegations of police misconduct, responded early with a number of changes in the police department including the dismissal of a number of officers and some policy changes.
In addition, she met with community members and leaders to address some the department’s critic’s concerns. Hampered by the ongoing investigations of each individual incident however, and properly awaiting the results of the federal probe, she was not in a position to respond as openly and candidly as many community members would have liked.
For the present DOJ report, Seabrooks has gone on record indicating that she is reviewing their findings and added, “we are evaluating policies and doing everything that we need to make sure the community can maintain its trust.”
Seabrooks continues to enjoy the support of Inglewood Mayor Roosevelt Dorn and many of the Council persons who supported her appointment.
“I have the utmost support for Chief Seabrooks,” Mayor Dorn said to a local television news crew. “She inherited some problems and she is working through them.”
Inglewood Council Member Ralph Franklin said. “I met with the City Attorney and we want to provide transparency and hope to make the 33-page report available for public review. It will be taken up by the City Council as soon as possible.”
The DOJ has urged the IPD to clarify their use of force policies, refrain from using Taser guns on restrained suspects, and assign the investigation of use of force incidents to staff personnel who were not involved in the original incident or report, among a host of other recommendations that may, once implemented, stem some of the criticism of the IPD..
The community awaits for formal response by Mayor Dorn, the City Council and of course, Police Chief Seabrooks.