Nuch Nixes Ninety-One Misdemeanors. A Final 'F' You to LA & the Office?
CBS Los Angeles picked up a story on the AP Wire stating that an internal LAPD Memo dated July 25, 2013 instructed commanding officers to no longer treat 91 crimes such as driving without a license, purchasing alcohol by a minor, drinking in public, defecating in public, dumping of sewage, trespassing and other “quality of life” offenses as misdemeanors. At the request of the City Attorney, these crimes are now to be treated as infractions.
KABC 790AM talk show host and Daily News columnist Doug McIntyre has been the most vocal in condemning the policy not only during his morning drive-time radio show, but also in his recent Daily News column "Crime disappears and so does quality of life." McIntyre makes the point that apart from falsely manipulating crime statistics to suggest crime has gone down when in fact it has merely been re-classified, the reality is that many quality of life crimes just won't be enforced.
Many have been quick to blame LA's newly elected City Attorney Mike Feuer as the mastermind of the new policy - the LAPD memo was dated July 25, 2013, just over three weeks after Feuer took office. However, the LA Weekly has revealed that the controversial policy was in fact penned by Carmen 'the Clown' Trutanich. He signed the policy change order on May 21, 2013.
May 21, 2013, as many will remember (and Trutanich would likely prefer to forget) was election day in LA, and it was the day that Trutanich lost by an historic landslide to Mike Feuer.
Quite why Trutanich would sign a policy change that is guaranteed to annoy, frustrate and aggravate many Los Angelenos is something of a mystery. Tellingly, and uncharacteristically, Trutanich did not issue a press release when he penned his poison pill policy. He must have known that the election was lost and that any public opinion backlash would not hurt him. Rather, it would hurt Feuer who is now forced to live with Trutanich's treachery.
But Trutanich's treachery runs deeper than giving Feuer a public opinion black eye. His misdemeanor to infraction policy not only threatens the quality of life for many Los Angelenos - such as the residents of Venice who were plagued by sewage dumping RV dwellers until the law was enforced, it also threatens the City Attorney's office. Trutanich used to boast and brag about the "50 to 60 thousand cases a year" that the criminal division handles. Sometimes, his figures went as high as 80,000.
What he didn't say was that many of those 50 to 60 thousand cases, perhaps as much as 40%, were the very crimes he has now reduced to infractions. Significantly, infractions are not handled by the City Attorney's office, as anyone who has ever had a traffic ticket knows.
Without the City Attorney's office handling those 91 misdemeanors it will be hard to justify employing the 200 to 300 attorneys in the criminal division. That's another problem for Feuer as he tries to negotiate his budget next year, and it's certainly a problem for many of those in the City Attorney's office who have dedicated their careers to the criminal division.
As Trutanich faced the music on election night, "holed-up in a real estate office with the Sheriff," perhaps the tears of the clown were tinged with a wry smile as Trutanich gave a final 'F' you to Los Angelenos, Mike Feuer, and the hard working deputy City Attorneys who despised him?