A workplace mediation program – monitored outside of the LAPD – is an excellent idea, and the time to institute such a program has come. That is why we support Los Angeles Police Commission Inspector General Alexander Bustamante’s call for such a program, which is in the best interests of our membership, the LAPD and taxpayers.
We urge the Police Commission to act swiftly to give final approval to the program called for in the Inspector General’s audit that would utilize independent lawyers with expertise in employment litigation to serve as mediators chosen from a mutually agreeable panel. The mediators would be given authority to remedy workplace conflicts to both parties’ satisfaction.
Without such a system in place, many LAPD officers find themselves in untenable workplace situations where their only viable option is to file a civil case against the Department. They cannot simply file a personnel complaint against a supervisor because too often that leads to the officer being labeled a troublemaker when he/she goes through the internal review system. Far too many officers have seen the tables turned on them and become victims of the system, often leading to substantially increased civil payouts.
In the current environment, millions of dollars are needlessly being paid out via civil lawsuits as indicated in the risk management audit recently published by the Office of the Inspector General. This should be of great concern to all stakeholders. Large payouts deplete funds that would otherwise be available to fully staff the LAPD or to fund salaries and benefits, promotions and overtime. Moreover, on a personal level, if you ask almost any officer who has received a large jury verdict following the initiation of employment litigation, you will learn that it has not come without a price that money cannot remedy.
As we have said publicly before, we urge the Department to join the LAPPL in committing to participate in the program developed by the IG. Trusting a third party, neutral mediator to resolve workplace conflicts in their early stages will go a long way toward improving morale and retention among the rank and file.
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