City Is Providing An Illegal 'Gift' To L.A. Rams By Letting LAPD Work Security, Says Lawsuit
Great, the L.A. Rams haven't even played a single regular-season game yet, and already there's some drama brewing.
It all starts with the pre-season: the Rams have a played a handful of games at the Coliseum this month (they'll be moving to a new stadium in Inglewood in 2019) and the sight hasn't always been pretty. People have documented some the vicious fights that have sprung up at the games:
Not the greatest way to celebrate the team's return to the Southland. The team, sensing that this could turn out to be very bad, announced earlier this month that it was working with the LAPD to bring additional security to the games. And the department, in a move to avoid giving officers overtime, have reassigned some on-duty officers from special investigative units to provide security, reports KTLA. These units include Counterterrorism, Major Crimes, Major Collisions, and the Juvenile Division. Some of the officers have existing case loads, which may be neglected as they work at the Coliseum. Currently, the Rams are paying for security inside the stadium, but not for the police working outside the stadium, reports NBC 4.
According to City News Service, Rams personnel will meet with officials this week in hopes of reaching a more-finalized agreement before the teams' first regular-season game at the Coliseum on September 18.
Some aren't too happy with the current setup, obviously. Former L.A. City Councilman Dennis Zine, who was also a police officer in the past, has filed a lawsuit against the city this Wednesday. He says that by providing LAPD officers for the games, the city is offering an illegal "gift of public funds," reports the L.A. Times. This sentiment is echoed by the Los Angeles Police Protective League, a police union. The union estimates that it will cost $200 million a year to put officers at the games.
"This comes at a time when the LAPD has critically low staffing levels and the city of Los Angeles has experienced a dramatic increase in violent crime and property crime over the past two years," Dustin DeRollo, a spokesperson for the LAPPL, told CNS.
Craig Lally, president of the LAPPL, told KTLA that the current setup requires the "tax payers of Los Angeles" to pay for security. Zine's suit, as well as the LAPPL, say that it should be Rams owner Stan Kroenke who foots the bill. Additionally, the LAPPL wants the LAPD to give off-duty officers paid-overtime to work the games, as opposed to pulling on-duty officers from different departments.
Four L.A. City Councilmembers—Mitch O'Farrell, Nury Martinez, Curren Price and Herb Wesson—signed a letter earlier this month urging Kroenke to cover the costs himself, reports CNS. The statement said that "it is imperative that the costs be fully covered and that only off-duty officers be employed," and added that the Rams relocation was a "clear lucrative move" for Kroenke, which is the council's way of saying "What more do you need from us???"
After the suit was filed on Wednesday, Mayor Eric Garcetti said that the city is "asking the Rams to help cover the cost of policing around the stadium—because we want to be absolutely certain that there will always be enough officers available to do the everyday job that our communities need and deserve."
The Rams have declined to comment on the lawsuit to multiple outlets. In a previous release, the team says it is "working with the LAPD to find solutions that work for everyone," and that the "safety of fans attending our games is a priority."
Tony Im, a public information officer at the LAPD, told LAist that the department doesn't comment on pending litigation.