LA Police Commission to consider new alcohol rules for armed off-duty officers

"No one wants anyone using a firearm while impaired. A more specific policy — the time may have come for that," the commission president said


By Kevin Rector
Los Angeles Times

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Police Commission on Tuesday said it was considering changing LAPD policy to restrict the use of alcohol by armed off-duty officers.

Commissioners requested a report from the department on the issue as well, citing an article in the Los Angeles Times on Sunday that detailed how the LAPD had failed for years to develop clear policies on the issue despite a series of problems involving drunk and armed officers.

"No one wants anyone using a firearm while impaired," said Eileen Decker, the commission president. "A more specific policy — the time may have come for that."

The Times article cited multiple cases in recent years in which off-duty officers had allegedly caused trouble, broken laws and shot people after drinking alcohol while armed.

A department spokesman told the Times that LAPD leaders "have and will hold our personnel accountable should they misuse alcohol and cannot exercise reasonable care and/or control of a firearm," including by using existing policies against "unbecoming" behavior by off-duty officers.

Still, the department's lack of a clear policy — one that would not only punish off-duty officers who get into trouble while drunk and armed but also preclude them from carrying weapons while intoxicated in the first place — puts the LAPD at odds with other law enforcement agencies in the region and country.

During the commission's virtual meeting Tuesday, LAPD Chief Michel Moore brought up the Times article, calling it "serious" and "concerning."

He said the misuse of alcohol by officers was "a very serious matter and one we pay a great deal of attention to," and that LAPD officers who have been found to have misused alcohol — resulting in "terrible outcomes" — have faced "swift and certain" consequences.

At the same time, he said he realized that policies played an important role in dictating behavior, and that the department would "continue to review" its policies around alcohol use by off-duty officers.

Decker responded by requesting the report, which she said should include "factual incidents involving the excessive use of alcohol and the use of a weapon or firearm" by LAPD officers, as well as a "comparative analysis" of alcohol policies from other law enforcement agencies across the country.

Commissioner William Briggs said he wanted the report to include the policies of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, while Decker said it should include policies from various large agencies.

Decker said the report should be delivered first to her and Briggs, who comprise the commission's executive committee. They will then work with the department to produce a fuller, public report for the commission to consider as it weighs new policies for LAPD officers, she said.

The Times article included the L.A. County sheriff's policy, which states that armed off-duty deputies "shall not consume any intoxicating substance to the point where the employee is unable to or does not exercise reasonable care and/or control of the firearm."

The policy says deputies with a blood-alcohol content of 0.08% or more are unable to do so by definition but may rebut claims that they violated the policy by showing they acted reasonably.

The Times article also noted policies that discourage, restrict or bar off-duty officers from drinking alcohol while armed in Orange County, California, and in Chicago, Houston, New York and San Francisco.

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