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Posted: 10/4/2007 3:21:09 AM EST
Deputies compete in arrest contests

By Scott Glover and Matt Lait, Los Angeles Times Staff Writers
October 4, 2007

Southeast L.A. competitions were meant to boost morale, official says. Baca calls them a well-meaning but ill-conceived idea.

Participating in sports such as football, weightlifting and boxing has long been part of the culture within the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. But deputies have recently been playing some new games -- on-duty enforcement competitions that have police watchers across the country crying foul.

One recent competition, described in an internal Sheriff's Department e-mail obtained by The Times, was called "Operation Any Booking." The object was to arrest as many people as possible within a specific 24-hour period.


The one-day competitions have included "Operation Vehicle Impound," a contest aimed at seizing as many cars as possible. And another challenged deputies to see how many gang members and other suspected criminals could be stopped and questioned.

The prize for winning was nothing more than "bragging rights," said Lt. James Tatreau, who helped organize the events that involved teams of deputies patrolling the southeast Los Angeles cities of Lakewood, Bellflower, Paramount, Artesia and Hawaiian Gardens. The station is one of 23 that make up the nation's largest sheriff's department.

"It's just a friendly competition to have a little fun out here," Tatreau said. It was Tatreau who sent the e-mail about the booking contest Aug. 15. Tatreau said he viewed the games, which began in July, as a morale booster for overworked deputies who, because of staffing shortages, are required to work four overtime shifts a month.

But police accountability experts, civil libertarians and defense attorneys condemned the practice, saying that it trivialized traumatic encounters such as arrests and having a car impounded, and raised questions about deputies' motives in taking such actions.

Hubert Williams, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Police Foundation, which promotes innovative policing strategies, called the competitions "highly problematic and inappropriate."

"The arrest is one of the most potent tools in the possession of law enforcement and should be used with great thought," Williams said. "It's not a competition or a game."

Others, including Los Angeles County Public Defender Michael P. Judge, worried that the games might also prompt deputies to make illegitimate arrests to boost their statistics.

"Certainly, it calls into question whether there was a legitimate reason to book any of the people who were booked during the time of the competition," Judge said.

"It's crazy," said Jane White, the associate director of the National Center for Community Policing. "I'm at a loss for words. I've never heard of anything like this before."

After being called for comment by The Times on Wednesday, Sheriff Lee Baca said he spoke with the Lakewood station lieutenant. Baca called the competitions a well-meaning but ill-conceived idea that promoted "the wrong values."

"We train deputies to be independent thinkers and leaders," Baca said. "The lesson learned here is that -- whether it's for morale purposes or to increase productivity -- law enforcement is not the kind of service where you can dictate the activity.

"We're not into numbers, we're into quality," he said. "I don't think it will occur again."

Operation Any Booking did not result in an increase in arrests on the day of the contest, according to records provided to The Times in response to a public records request. The cities reported a combined total of 28 arrests, which was equal to the daily average that month.

The impound competition, however, appears to have dramatically increased the number of vehicles seized, records show. On average, deputies in the five-city area hauled away 4.7 cars a day in July. On the day of the contest, July 11, they impounded 37 vehicles -- which owners could not recover until they paid a towing fee.

Deputies in Lakewood seized 18 vehicles that day, half the total they would impound over the course of the month.

The number of field interviews with gang members and other suspected criminals also soared during the contest to increase that particular enforcement activity. Tatreau said the spike occurred because some deputies had fallen out of the habit of doing that intelligence gathering.

Before he was contacted by Baca, Tatreau said he stood by the idea to encourage deputies' productivity and had been encouraged by deputies who liked the competition.

"They were pumped and excited," Tatreau said. "I've never got any negative feedback. It's not a quota or review system. It's a morale booster."

Like every station, Tatreau said, there are "good, hardworking deputies and there are the lazy guys." He said he was trying to encourage the less motivated deputies to get more involved in proactive police work.

Tatreau said he joined the Lakewood station about 18 months ago and noticed that some deputies weren't pulling their weight. Some patrol deputies made 15 to 20 arrests a month, while others made seven arrests in an entire year, he said.

"It frustrates me that people are so against doing work and cry foul," he said.

Tatreau said he was "almost certain" that he was the one who came up with the original idea to have deputies compete, but that he did so with the approval of his captain.

On the day of the contests, a sheet of paper was posted in the watch commander's office where deputies reported their activity. At the end of the 24-hour period, the team results were tallied.

"We're not doing anything wrong," Tatreau said. "No way, no how did anyone encourage officers to falsify a report or an arrest."

scott.glover@latimes.com

matt.lait@latimes.com


www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-games4oct04,0,3881557.story?coll=la-home-center
Link Posted: 10/4/2007 3:22:33 AM EST
Link Posted: 10/4/2007 3:25:15 AM EST

"We're not doing anything wrong," Tatreau said. "No way, no how did anyone encourage officers to falsify a report or an arrest."


Not just LA
Link Posted: 10/4/2007 3:27:03 AM EST
Link Posted: 10/4/2007 3:28:53 AM EST

Originally Posted By Wave:
COLLARS FOR DOLLAR$!!!


LOL! Wave! Now you guys see what I mean?

Link Posted: 10/4/2007 3:32:09 AM EST
"Ma'am, your 3 kids will be just fine with social services while we process you for the next 8 - 10 hours and impound your vehicle. Just look on the bright side. I will have some serious bragging rights at work now"
Link Posted: 10/4/2007 3:34:41 AM EST
Folks, this is LA.

There is an abundance of criminals in LA.

I wish the LE around here would have a contest over who can arrest the most illegal MS-13ers. That would be friggin' awesome.
Link Posted: 10/4/2007 3:45:54 AM EST
That reminds me a lot of the episode of Reno:911 where they were competing for tickets to a game. Garcia won by arresting a Jewish transvestite prostitute with a tattoo of an animal.
Link Posted: 10/4/2007 3:51:08 AM EST
[Last Edit: 10/4/2007 3:52:27 AM EST by TNROBOCOP]

Originally Posted By VarmintKilla:
"Ma'am, your 3 kids will be just fine with social services while we process you for the next 8 - 10 hours and impound your vehicle. Just look on the bright side. I will have some serious bragging rights at work now"


And your point is?

The only way we ever arrested someone and put their little drains on society in social services is if there was absolutely no one that could come get them.

Besides, like the article says, it's not about something new but actually getting people to do their job. Like when it is a big deal for ICE to arrest/deport 1300 illegals, when all along they should have been doing it anyway.
Link Posted: 10/4/2007 4:05:27 AM EST

Originally Posted By TNROBOCOP:

Originally Posted By VarmintKilla:
"Ma'am, your 3 kids will be just fine with social services while we process you for the next 8 - 10 hours and impound your vehicle. Just look on the bright side. I will have some serious bragging rights at work now"


And your point is?

The only way we ever arrested someone and put their little drains on society in social services is if there was absolutely no one that could come get them.

Besides, like the article says, it's not about something new but actually getting people to do their job. Like when it is a big deal for ICE to arrest/deport 1300 illegals, when all along they should have been doing it anyway.


I hope you get your car impounded for someone else's bragging rights. That will help you understand why this might not be a good thing.
Link Posted: 10/4/2007 4:05:30 AM EST
[Last Edit: 10/4/2007 5:18:44 AM EST by Nimrod1193]

Originally Posted By John_Wayne777:
Folks, this is LA.

There is an abundance of criminals in LA.

I wish the LE around here would have a contest over who can arrest the most illegal MS-13ers. That would be friggin' awesome.


No shit. When I worked in DC, it was what we called a "target-rich environment." It ain't like you gotta work real hard to find someone doing something wrong there.
Link Posted: 10/4/2007 4:10:56 AM EST

Originally Posted By John_Wayne777:
Folks, this is LA.

There is an abundance of criminals in LA.

I wish the LE around here would have a contest over who can arrest the most illegal MS-13ers. That would be friggin' awesome.


No shortage of scum in L.A.
As far as I'm concerned,as long as their wanted or breaking the law,I have no problem with it.
Link Posted: 10/4/2007 4:13:57 AM EST
Big deal.We do that here. It's not as if we make stuff up.
Link Posted: 10/4/2007 4:55:29 AM EST
No prizes?
Link Posted: 10/4/2007 4:59:28 AM EST
They should try a scavenger hunt.
Link Posted: 10/4/2007 5:06:48 AM EST
DO you think that LA County is going to run out of real criminals and innocent people are going to be rounded up?
Link Posted: 10/4/2007 5:08:59 AM EST
Sounds like a way to try to "focus" the entire department on one particular "problem" for a day..
Link Posted: 10/4/2007 5:14:59 AM EST
[Last Edit: 10/4/2007 5:15:58 AM EST by Johninaustin]

Originally Posted By Tim_the_enchanter:
They should try a scavenger hunt.


We have. the winning officer found two dirtbags smoking weed in a red Toyota with Michigan plates.
Link Posted: 10/4/2007 5:20:59 AM EST

Originally Posted By Johninaustin:

Originally Posted By Tim_the_enchanter:
They should try a scavenger hunt.


We have. the winning officer found two dirtbags smoking weed in a red Toyota with Michigan plates.

Now theres a pair of god awful criminals!
Thank goodness they're off the streets!
Link Posted: 10/4/2007 5:28:36 AM EST

"It's crazy," said Jane White, the associate director of the National Center for Community Policing. "I'm at a loss for words. I've never heard of anything like this before."




Oh BS!! It was on an episode of Reno 911.

My guess is Reno 911 got the idea from the police.
Link Posted: 10/4/2007 5:30:24 AM EST

Originally Posted By Johninaustin:

Originally Posted By Tim_the_enchanter:
They should try a scavenger hunt.


We have. the winning officer found two dirtbags smoking weed in a red Toyota with Michigan plates.


They did the same thing in Reno 911.

I was funny when they did it.
Link Posted: 10/4/2007 5:40:39 AM EST
I know, let's add a part where, if they seize any property they get to keep it. Screw this shit about "bragging rights". Let's give them some real incentive.

Oh, wait . . . . .


Then there are the LEOs here who will claim that this is all good, and they don't have a clue why cops get bad press or have bad relations with the community. Go figure.
Link Posted: 10/4/2007 5:45:16 AM EST
The only problem I see here is with impounding the cars. I was pulled for having out of date tags after coming home from deployment once. I told the officer what the deal was and he gave me a warning. If this "game" were in play here I might have had my vehicle seized for the bragging rights.

And before anybody jumps me, yes, I know I was in the wrong.
Link Posted: 10/4/2007 5:48:27 AM EST
[Last Edit: 10/4/2007 5:48:38 AM EST by John_Wayne777]

Originally Posted By RAIDERBOB:
The only problem I see here is with impounding the cars. I was pulled for having out of date tags after coming home from deployment once. I told the officer what the deal was and he gave me a warning. If this "game" were in play here I might have had my vehicle seized for the bragging rights.

And before anybody jumps me, yes, I know I was in the wrong.


An officer cannot seize your vehicle for an out of date registration.
Link Posted: 10/4/2007 5:48:31 AM EST

Originally Posted By TruckinAR:

Originally Posted By Johninaustin:

Originally Posted By Tim_the_enchanter:
They should try a scavenger hunt.


We have. the winning officer found two dirtbags smoking weed in a red Toyota with Michigan plates.

Now theres a pair of god awful criminals!
Thank goodness they're off the streets!


They are not. Weed is a ticket here.
Link Posted: 10/4/2007 5:50:00 AM EST

Originally Posted By John_Wayne777:

Originally Posted By RAIDERBOB:
The only problem I see here is with impounding the cars. I was pulled for having out of date tags after coming home from deployment once. I told the officer what the deal was and he gave me a warning. If this "game" were in play here I might have had my vehicle seized for the bragging rights.

And before anybody jumps me, yes, I know I was in the wrong.


An officer cannot seize your vehicle for an out of date registration.


Apparently, in MO they can seize your car for any infraction. Although, in MO they can make up at least 9 infractions on the spot.
Link Posted: 10/4/2007 5:51:45 AM EST
People complain when lots of them get arrested? Wow imagine that! It's like the big ICE roundups ending with Hispanic Advocacy Groups calling for boycotts. Break the law, face your punishment. Cry me a river.

As a taxpayer, paying a cop to enforce the law, I like to see them doing an effective job. The hard part is to keep those numbers up after seeing what they are capable of producing when motivated.
Link Posted: 10/4/2007 5:54:25 AM EST

Originally Posted By TNROBOCOP:

Originally Posted By VarmintKilla:
"Ma'am, your 3 kids will be just fine with social services while we process you for the next 8 - 10 hours and impound your vehicle. Just look on the bright side. I will have some serious bragging rights at work now"


And your point is?

The only way we ever arrested someone and put their little drains on society in social services is if there was absolutely no one that could come get them.

Besides, like the article says, it's not about something new but actually getting people to do their job. Like when it is a big deal for ICE to arrest/deport 1300 illegals, when all along they should have been doing it anyway.


Did you ever hear the "...I can make up 9 things right now" audio? That's my point. I'm sure there are plenty of legitimate arrests during their little competition, but when you give somebody the ability to boost their ego it adds just the outside chance of bending the rules just a little bit. It shouldn't be a competition, it should be done routinely or not at all.
Link Posted: 10/4/2007 5:54:52 AM EST
Nothing wrong with a little motivation.

If they were making shit up then there would be a problem.

Some of you Arfcommers sound like the liberal weenies who are whining in the article Boo hoo the cops had a conest to arrest people who break the law

Oh my gosh they tried to see who could stop and question the most gang bangers...oh the humanity
Link Posted: 10/4/2007 6:02:41 AM EST
Being a cop is a job just like anything else and officers can become complacent just like any other employee. I'm sure the people that think this is a bad idea would be a tad upset, if their employers stopped giving incentives and bonuses at work. As long as all the charges are legit, more power to 'em.
Link Posted: 10/4/2007 6:02:55 AM EST

Originally Posted By Another_Dude:

Originally Posted By John_Wayne777:

Originally Posted By RAIDERBOB:
The only problem I see here is with impounding the cars. I was pulled for having out of date tags after coming home from deployment once. I told the officer what the deal was and he gave me a warning. If this "game" were in play here I might have had my vehicle seized for the bragging rights.

And before anybody jumps me, yes, I know I was in the wrong.


An officer cannot seize your vehicle for an out of date registration.


Apparently, in MO they can seize your car for any infraction. Although, in MO they can make up at least 9 infractions on the spot.


I think John_Wayne777 is right. In most jurisictions they are required to throw a joint in the back seat before they seize it. No big difference, they just have to carry the handy Seizure Toolkit.
Link Posted: 10/4/2007 6:04:53 AM EST

Originally Posted By justice23:
Nothing wrong with a little motivation.

If they were making shit up then there would be a problem.

Some of you Arfcommers sound like the liberal weenies who are whining in the article Boo hoo the cops had a conest to arrest people who break the law

Oh my gosh they tried to see who could stop and question the most gang bangers...oh the humanity


Yeah, no chance that they would make shit up just because they wanted to take somebody's car, or just generally fuck with someone, or win the contest back at the station.

Not to mention that the LA jails are releasing people out the back door for everyone they bring in the front. This system is in real good shape.
Link Posted: 10/4/2007 6:08:38 AM EST
HOLY SHIT!!! I'm: IBFEDC
Link Posted: 10/4/2007 6:10:15 AM EST

An officer cannot seize your vehicle for an out of date registration.


Maybe not where you live but we can in NYC as long as it's expired over 60 days. It's called the Rotation Tow program. We can also take it and hold it at the precinct until the owner brings in proof of registration if it's expired under 60 days but that rarely, if ever, happens in my area.
Link Posted: 10/4/2007 6:19:16 AM EST
[Last Edit: 10/4/2007 6:21:04 AM EST by justice23]

Originally Posted By wolfman97:

Originally Posted By justice23:
Nothing wrong with a little motivation.

If they were making shit up then there would be a problem.

Some of you Arfcommers sound like the liberal weenies who are whining in the article Boo hoo the cops had a conest to arrest people who break the law

Oh my gosh they tried to see who could stop and question the most gang bangers...oh the humanity


Yeah, no chance that they would make shit up just because they wanted to take somebody's car, or just generally fuck with someone, or win the contest back at the station.

Not to mention that the LA jails are releasing people out the back door for everyone they bring in the front. This system is in real good shape.


Yup you are one of the usual suspects

Edit: I can't believe I wasted post 1911 on you
Link Posted: 10/4/2007 6:24:03 AM EST

Originally Posted By Wave:
COLLARS FOR DOLLAR$!!!




Link Posted: 10/4/2007 6:31:02 AM EST

"We train deputies to be independent thinkers and leaders," Baca said.


Link Posted: 10/4/2007 6:31:17 AM EST

Originally Posted By justice23:

Originally Posted By wolfman97:

Originally Posted By justice23:
Nothing wrong with a little motivation.

If they were making shit up then there would be a problem.

Some of you Arfcommers sound like the liberal weenies who are whining in the article Boo hoo the cops had a conest to arrest people who break the law

Oh my gosh they tried to see who could stop and question the most gang bangers...oh the humanity


Yeah, no chance that they would make shit up just because they wanted to take somebody's car, or just generally fuck with someone, or win the contest back at the station.

Not to mention that the LA jails are releasing people out the back door for everyone they bring in the front. This system is in real good shape.


Yup you are one of the usual suspects

Edit: I can't believe I wasted post 1911 on you


Yeah, I don't have any clue why cops get a bad public image, either. I can't figure it out. How about you?
Link Posted: 10/4/2007 6:35:14 AM EST
It appears our local whiners have yet to figure out that like any other contest or competition, the OTHER participants make sure everything you do is on the up and up.


That's okay, it's the dope slowing the thought processes down.
Link Posted: 10/4/2007 6:36:55 AM EST

Originally Posted By Johninaustin:
It appears our local whiners have yet to figure out that like any other contest or competition, the OTHER participants make sure everything you do is on the up and up.


That's okay, it's the dope slowing the thought processes down.


Yeah, I am with you. I can't figure out why cops get bad press, either. Never mind any professional standards for LEOs. Those are just a bunch of hooey.

I guess this is the way you operate on a normal basis?
Link Posted: 10/4/2007 6:44:04 AM EST

Originally Posted By wolfman97:

Originally Posted By Johninaustin:
It appears our local whiners have yet to figure out that like any other contest or competition, the OTHER participants make sure everything you do is on the up and up.


That's okay, it's the dope slowing the thought processes down.


Yeah, I am with you. I can't figure out why cops get bad press, either. Never mind any professional standards for LEOs. Those are just a bunch of hooey.

I guess this is the way you operate on a normal basis?


Depends...waht's the prize? I had no interest in the free beer coupons last time.
Link Posted: 10/4/2007 6:46:00 AM EST


Why is this in the news? Isn't this standard practice in pretty much every law enforcement organization in the country?
Link Posted: 10/4/2007 6:48:29 AM EST

Originally Posted By Wave:
COLLARS FOR DOLLAR$!!!


Now THERE is a cop with a sense of humor!!!

Link Posted: 10/4/2007 6:51:50 AM EST

Originally Posted By kill-9:


Why is this in the news? Isn't this standard practice in pretty much every law enforcement organization in the country?


Pretty much. It's just a way to make work a little less boring. I'm not surprised some irrational folks see it as the coming of the devil. That's just GD.
Link Posted: 10/4/2007 6:55:07 AM EST
What stopping cops from arresting gang members now? Lack of a competition?

If someone needs a contest to do their job, they should find a new line of work. Your paycheck is your incentive.

It sounds like we have our fair share of cops that fall into the category, "...are the lazy guys."
Link Posted: 10/4/2007 6:57:19 AM EST

Originally Posted By Johninaustin:

Originally Posted By kill-9:


Why is this in the news? Isn't this standard practice in pretty much every law enforcement organization in the country?


Pretty much. It's just a way to make work a little less boring. I'm not surprised some irrational folks see it as the coming of the devil. That's just GD.


Conflict of interest. Cops are supposed to be neutrally enforcing laws, not trying to find any excuse to arrest someone.
Link Posted: 10/4/2007 7:04:02 AM EST

Originally Posted By Extorris:

An officer cannot seize your vehicle for an out of date registration.


Maybe not where you live but we can in NYC as long as it's expired over 60 days. It's called the Rotation Tow program. We can also take it and hold it at the precinct until the owner brings in proof of registration if it's expired under 60 days but that rarely, if ever, happens in my area.


The officer told me that he could impound it but was just warning me for the time being. He could of just been trying to scare me into updating the tags.
Link Posted: 10/4/2007 7:06:30 AM EST

Originally Posted By happycynic:

Originally Posted By Johninaustin:

Originally Posted By kill-9:


Why is this in the news? Isn't this standard practice in pretty much every law enforcement organization in the country?


Pretty much. It's just a way to make work a little less boring. I'm not surprised some irrational folks see it as the coming of the devil. That's just GD.


Conflict of interest. Cops are supposed to be neutrally enforcing laws, not trying to find any excuse to arrest someone.


Who is finding excuses? They commit a crime, they go to jail. No one is going to cobble up a career-ending arrest over it.

Just more hysteria from the cop bashers.
Link Posted: 10/4/2007 7:08:28 AM EST
I have no problem with contests for the most FELONY arrests, but any arrest is easy and puts grandma at risk for some stupid local ordinance law.
Link Posted: 10/4/2007 7:10:29 AM EST
It's pretty simple really...

Don't break the law and you don't get arrested.

Link Posted: 10/4/2007 7:11:09 AM EST
As far as I am concerned this contest is fine as long as none of the cops are breaking the law. Local merchants should donate prizes to give to the cops. I would gladly kick in something if the lazy cops in my town would get off their asses and do their job.
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