By Besha Rodell
By Patrick Range McDonald
By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
Yet King was such a bad fit that angry students, upset Los Angeles motorists and even fellow officers filed eight complaints against him for misconduct — all in his first two years. But Kerstein had chosen as his head of Internal Affairs his own adjutant, Tim Anderson, despite the fact that Anderson had no formal detective training.
LAPD’s Stone says that one “active investigation [into King] was circumvented — right in the middle of it.” Detective Stone recounts the incident he stumbled across while interviewing King’s colleagues and superiors: King was being interrogated for misconduct by the school Internal Affairs unit one day, Stone says, when “one of the [Kerstein] friendlies called Kerstein and said, ‘Your boy’s in here’ ” being interviewed by I.A. In a series of irregularities, King was allowed to speak to Kerstein on the phone, then King handed the phone to I.A. investigators and, Stone was told by the witnesses, “They’re told to stop their inquiry.”
Stone refuses to divulge which investigation was tainted by Kerstein’s intrusion, or whether Kerstein was still chief at the time. (Kerstein has failed to return numerous phone calls made over many months by L.A. Weekly.)
Stone says school district documents show “no indication on paper that [King] was punished for the [Shapiro] event” by Manion’s department or the district. Recently retired school-board member Julie Korenstein, who had not heard of the Regina Shapiro incident until she was informed about it by the Weekly, says that if King had been disciplined by Manion, “This would have been something that came to [the school board] in closed session as a personnel matter. This never happened.”
In fact, when it comes to the problems unfolding at the largely unaccountable police department, the Board of Education, responsible for protecting schoolchildren and overseeing these cops, is nowhere to be found. The board’s Committee on School Safety, Health and Human Services is made up of three members, who craft key safety policies, which then go to the full school board for consideration. But the newly departed Korenstein, chairwoman of the safety committee for more than a decade, admits her committee was not even aware that LAUSD had an Internal Affairs unit, or that the I.A. division regularly placed its probes into misconduct by school cops at the bottom of the pile.
Korenstein told the Weekly she was “not specifically” aware of the Internal Affairs unit. She responded dismissively when the Weekly asked her how this was possible. “We talk about things like lead in water,” she said. “We talk about whether cell-phone signals near schools are hurting kids, and pesticide on campus. Do you understand?”
With a new school board swept in by a multimillion-dollar campaign backed by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in 2007, and with a new superintendent, David Brewer, in place that year, two secret audits showed that the police force was reeling from mismanagement by the departed Kerstein and the hapless Manion. James Ream blames Manion’s failure to punish King for King’s later sexual attack on the lost motorist Nicole D., saying, “I believe that if our chief were more competent, I think things would have been different.”
Neither of the two reports, both calling for extensive reforms, was released to parents or the public. They were discreetly presented to then-Superintendent Brewer and the school board, led by newly chosen President Monica Garcia.
The Weekly has been unable to find any significant changes made by Manion since the damning 2007 reports landed on the desks of Brewer, his successor Ramon Cortines, school board members Yolie Aguilar Flores, Tamar Galatzan, Monica Garcia, Marguerite LaMotte and Richard Vladovic, former board members Korenstein and Marlene Canter, and past and current LAUSD chief operating officers Dan Isaacs and David Holmquist.
Manion has submitted three separate plans to fix the police department, most recently in February, but his vision of reform seems to equate with expansion — the very thing both audits have clearly and strongly warned against.
He sought $4.5 million for 100 new police cars and $60 million for a high-end communications system, and district officials refused. And no wonder: The auditors in both of the secret reports pointedly warned that pouring money into building up such a badly run police force would merely magnify its problems.
The school district did change the name “Village Policing” to “Community Policing,” but the August 2007 audit showed that Chief Manion never halted Kerstein’s controversial practice of letting school cops roam L.A. streets far from any school grounds, tramping over LAPD jurisdictions.
That audit urged Manion to “draft explicit guidelines limiting off-campus law-enforcement activities.” Yet today, neither school board President Garcia nor Superintendent Cortines will discuss this significant problem, or any other aspect of the police department.
Another troubling Kerstein legacy maintained under Manion is the Specialist Reserves Program. According to official memos obtained by the Weekly, under Kerstein, some members of the reserves got official badges, uniforms, nameplates, hats, ties, tie clips, pants and belts — yet were not required to receive reserves training or undergo background checks.