Forces of Agitation

Jan Perry's most recent unsuccessful attempt to take down Peter Torres is rooted in the LAPD senior lead officer’s forays into politics.

But the tension between the two was exacerbated by Torres’ stand during the spring election against the dumping of homeless people.

That, and Torres’ attempts to police the area surrounding an emergency shelter on his former beat in Newton Division, alienated a Perry ally, who also took steps to undermine Torres’ career as an officer — and contributed to his removal from Newton Division.

In addition to being hit with two charges of misconduct by Perry, Torres was accused by Brenda Wilson, director of New Image Emergency Shelter, at 38th Street and Broadway Place, of using his position as a cop, in two separate incidents, to harass her and her business. Investigators with the Internal Affairs Group determined that both charges by Wilson were unfounded, according to Internal Affairs documents.

A New Image employee named Sylvia Lozano also charged that Torres was discourteous. Investigators determined that his actions warranted no disciplinary action, the documents show.

As in the case of Perry’s charges against Torres, investigators noted difficulty in confirming statements made by the complainant, Wilson, who refused to be interviewed about her charges, according to Internal Affairs documents. “There are several inaccuracies in the letter of complaint,” writes the investigator. “These discrepancies could have been addressed had [Wilson] submitted to an interview, which she didn’t.”

Wilson is a Perry supporter — and vice versa. She displayed “Re-elect Jan Perry” signs at New Image, a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization, during the election. She drove clients to the polls, according to a letter she wrote to Chief Bill Bratton in support of her charges against Torres. Perry has promoted Wilson and other emergency-shelter operators as part of the potential answer to Los Angeles’ downtown homeless problem.

During his campaign, Torres pointed to a rise in property crime in the area surrounding New Image since it opened. LAPD records show that New Image, which buses in clients from Skid Row and Hollywood but prohibits walk-ins, has made more than 50 calls for police service since 2002.

In one of her charges, Wilson accused Torres of making false statements about New Image during a televised campaign interview. In the other, she accused Torres of initiating a health inspection at New Image for personal reasons. Torres never mentioned New Image by name during his televised interview, the documents show. And a health inspection of wastewater discharge at New Image, prompted by Torres’ call to City Inspector Chin Teo, warranted corrective action by Teo that Wilson denied having occurred, according to Internal Affairs documents.

But Wilson doesn’t have Peter Torres on her doorstep anymore.

According to Michael Plotkin, Torres’ attorney, despite Torres’ being offered his job back at Newton Division, he is content with his new assignment at Rampart Division, even though it was not his intent or choice to be removed in the first place. Not to discount the run-in with Wilson, Plotkin said, but ending up on an elected official’s hit list carries extraordinary risks — despite what the LAPD says about uniformity in its approach to investigating claims of misconduct.

The charges leveled by Jan Perry seemed to weigh particularly heavy on the Newton Division command, Plotkin said, giving rise to concerns about its handling of the matter. A ruling on the Wilson charges was signed, sealed and delivered in early August, when the Perry charges, ruled to be unfounded on August 26, were left sitting in someone’s inbox or outbox while Captain Sean Kane went on a four-week vacation, Plotkin said. Torres did not receive a ruling on the Perry charges until October 11, according to Plotkin.

Kane declined to answer the Weekly’s questions. “I’m not going to talk about my vacation,” he said. Plotkin said that when he asked Captain Joan McNamara, acting commander in Kane’s absence, about the delay, she told him, “Peter has been treated unfairly, and I will do what I can to expedite the matter.” The following day, Plotkin said, he was informed that McNamara had a conflict of interest due to an earlier contact with Jan Perry on a matter concerning Torres, and that she was prohibited from signing off on the completed investigation. “What does that tell ya?” Plotkin said. “It tells me that it matters whose name is on that complaint form.”

Wilson and Perry refused to comment on their unfounded charges against Torres.

While Torres has moved on, so has McNamara. She was recently promoted two levels by Deputy Chief Lee Carter, the Central Bureau commanding officer who was overseeing the Perry-Torres matter, and who ordered Torres’ placement “on loan” to Rampart when the charges of misconduct surfaced. McNamara is now commanding officer at Harbor Division. She did not return calls for comment. Nor did Carter return calls for comment.

To download documents obtained by the Weekly as pdf files, click the following links.

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