The LAPD recently changed its ways, saying that unlicensed drivers can generally have their cars back after one day if they're stopped by cops. State law says such impounds should last 30 days. But immigrants' rights activists have argued that illegals, who can't get licenses in California, have been unfairly targeted and stripped of their vehicles. By the time 30 days rolls around, impound and tow fees often add up to more than the cars are worth.
It has been a political hot potato, but Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck have pushed for the change -- over the dead body of the L.A. police union. Now ...
... the union, the Los Angeles Police Protective League, is suing the city in L.A. Superior Court over the policy.
The LAPPL today announced that it is "seeking declaratory and injunctive relief related to the Chief of Police's new unlicensed-driver vehicle impound policy."
The league's concerns are this:
-What if a driver who was allowed to have his car back turns around and, motoring unlicensed, is involved in a fatal accident? Will the officers involved in the release be personally responsible?
The LAPPL states:
... The new policy may subject LAPD officers to potential civil liability if they impound an unlicensed driver's car under the new one-day policy, and that driver, within those next 30 days, goes on to cause a collision resulting in injury or death.
-The suit also notes that the rule conflicts with state law. Officers are sworn to uphold state law.
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The league emphasizes that its opposition to the rule "is not a position on immigration policy or the status of undocumented immigrants in this country."
Union president Tyler Izen says "the officers are in a catch-22."
He has a point. The real solution to this is to allow undocumented workers to obtain licenses in California. It's not like they're not here, don't mow our lawns, and don't drive.