In a rare public rebuke of a media outlet, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck called out CBS2/KCAL 9 news and its investigative reporter, David Goldstein, for "ambushing" a department assistant chief during an event called "LAPD Recognition Day."
In a letter sent to station general manager Steven Mauldin last week, Beck stated that "... considering the excellent working relationship that we enjoy with KCBS2/KCAL9, I am hopeful that in the future, your reporters and producers will not feel the need to ambush LAPD personnel. Had your reporter requested an interview in advance, the assistant chief would have spoken to the reporter once he had an opportunity to investigate the facts."
The LAPD official in question appears to be Assistant Chief Earl Paysinger. Goldstein's piece, a package that has run during May sweeps, focuses on city and county law enforcement personnel who take advantage of a state law allowing people in such sensitive positions to obtain confidential license plates for themselves or family members.
The addresses attached to the plates are hard to track down, giving the authorities some piece of mind when they're dealing with bad guys. But parking tickets to vehicles with confidential plates sometimes don't reach their targets. Goldstein seems to be alleging that some cops take advantage of their confidential plates by failing to pay for their parking tickets, too.
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He reported that, in Paysinger's case, "We found 18 unpaid tickets since 2006 on a car that was registered to him and his son. They have since sold it."
Beck states that confidential-plate owners who receive parking tickets in the city of L.A. pay the fines promptly at a rate of 70 percent -- better than the 45 percent for the general public. He also said that Paysinger and other department employees who had failed to pay parking tickets were unaware they even had been issued (an "oversight" he said would be addressed).
Paysinger, Beck said, has paid up; two other employees have been put on notice to pay their tickets.
In any case, Beck argues, the LAPD Recognition Day event "where a number of LAPD command and staff officers were honoring the recipients of the department's highest awards" was the wrong occasion to confront a department leader about the tickets.