By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Captain Dan Koenig, former grant manager at the LAPD’s Management Services Division, attributes the holdup to several glitches. The DOJ had designated a company to carry out the study, he said, while the L.A. civil code requires the city to accept bids from a number of qualified companies. An exchange of paper between the city attorney and the Justice Department was necessary to inform the DOJ of the city policy and get permission to follow it.
"Each time you take a major step, they [the DOJ] have to approve it," said Koenig.
That didn’t stop Chief Parks from adding a few steps of his own. "In addition to sole-sourcing, [the original grant application included] an oversight structure that was heavy with Police Commission participation," Koenig explained. "That was unacceptable under the new regime, so we reorganized it and made it more representative of the operational side of the department."
"Operational side" means staff officers — commanders from the Employee Relations Administration, Human Resources and the Internal Affairs Division. The reorganization, in effect, skewed the composition away from civilian participation and toward LAPD sworn staff. Koenig, who was appointed by Parks to manage the grant when the new chief took office, said that the decision to rearrange the oversight committee was his.
The Police Commission is charged with policy concerns, he said, but "If you’re going to develop a system that people are going to use day-to-day, you need people from the day-to-day side. There was too much of an imbalance."
The committee changes involved "lots of folks, so it took a while to get everything squared away," according to Koenig.
Police Commissioner Gerald Chaleff took over as chair of the oversight committee in August 1997 and is the one civilian who remained a constant during the reorganization. Asked to comment on the role of the commission and the continuing delays, Chaleff described the reorganization of the committee as "an expansion" and concurred with Koenig that it made sense. "No one tried to delay [the process]; no one tried to get control of it. It’s worked out that the right people are involved," Chaleff said.
Asked if the delays indicated an institutional lack of interest, Chaleff insisted, "We’re committed to getting this done."
Funding authorization from the Department of Justice finally came through in September 1998, and in November, after putting the study out for bid, the Technology Committee of the Police Commission, also headed by Chaleff, selected the Ottawa-based Sierra Systems to carry out the research.
Sierra Systems is a name that raises eyebrows in City Hall, however, because the firm was previously retained to computerize the city employee payroll system — a process now a year behind schedule, with a $13 million cost overrun. Chaleff says that Sierra Systems has guaranteed the Police Commission that the same personnel would not be involved in the TEAMS study.
The research could take as long as six months, according to Lieutenant Charles Beck, department staff for the study.
Six months, that is, from when the study officially gets under way — a process that won’t start until the contract gets City Council approval. As of mid-June, that vote had not yet taken place. Beck said that the work is informally under way. "We’re already engaged in initial planning, getting them hooked up with the right people. Once the contract is approved, we’ve anticipated very little start-up time."
Even if the original contract goes through, the study would conclude around January 2000, a full three years after Commissioner Ray Fisher applied for Department of Justice money and nine years after the Christopher Commission recommendations came out. The LAPD and the Police Commission will still have no more than an assessment of what it takes — and what it will cost — to bring TEAMS II to L.A.
Such a system still will be years from being in place, because the LAPD will then have to find the money to build it — with the Department of Justice once again the most likely prospect.
Right now, however, a bill is moving through Congress that would eliminate the COPS program, and with it the most likely source of future funding for TEAMS II. "We wouldn’t want to speculate whether we’ll be awarding grants in the future," said Dan Feiffer, a DOJ spokesman. It will be weeks before the fate of the COPS program is clear, after the bill goes to the House and then to the president.
And if COPS is re-funded, "The grant application and funding process will come out very differently," Feiffer said.
There are other Justice Department sources for the LAPD, Feiffer added. But finding them and pursuing the money can only add to the length of time it will take to get TEAMS II launched. If the DOJ doesn’t fund the actual construction of the system, "I’m sure the department will seek other funding," said the LAPD’s Beck.
If the LAPD were to receive Justice Department funds, the grant would not be awarded until August 2001. And if it takes the five years that it took the Sheriff’s Department to build and test its system, L.A. would not have a risk-management tracking system up and functioning until 2006.