City council fails to veto L.A. non-response

Saturday, March 1, 2003

LOS ANGELES - A controversial non-response policy for Los Angeles is one step closer to reality after a vote by the Los Angeles City Council fell two shy of over-running a policy approved by the police commission.

The Feb. 4 decision fell short of the necessary 10 votes, with eight members once again voting to veto the policy. It was the second time in two weeks the city council held a vote on vetoing the policy.

Despite the majority vote of the council, police are now free to begin to implement the policy, a process which police say will take 60 days.

Les Gold, an attorney representing the industry, said that representatives from the industry have begun discussions regarding a possible challenge to the new policy.

“Now we’ll be able to test whether or not they effectively can do what they’re doing,” said Gold. “It’s a long way from being over.”

Gold would not discuss any specifics of the industry’s planned response.

Jerry Lenander, executive director of the Greater Los Angeles Security Alarm Association, said police developed this policy without the input of the industry.

“Frankly, we were not allowed to be involved,” Lenander said. “We didn’t hear about (the policy) until they adopted it.”

The council first attempted to veto the policy Jan. 28, but narrowly missed by two votes. Eight council members voted in favor of vetoing the policy that was approved by the police commission in January. The eight votes were two short of the 10 votes required by the city council to uphold a veto.

If it were implemented, under the new policy police would respond to a burglar alarm only if an eyewitness or video had verified the alarm.

The policy would not apply to human-activated panic alarms and burglar alarms at the city’s gun shops.

Additionally, all municipal buildings and the homes and offices of high-ranking city officials, including members of the city council and the mayor, would be exempt from the non-response policy.

“Effectively they can have all the false alarms they want,” said Gold.

“The position that (the police) have taken is that essentially these people are in a high-risk situation and they should be given special treatment.”