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Morning Brief: LA’s First Female Fire Chief, Opioid Education, And How To Make Friends

LAFD Deputy Chief Kristin Crowley smiles and poses in her uniform.
LAFD Deputy Chief Kristin Crowley attends The 2019 MAKERS Conference at Monarch Beach Resort on Feb. 7, 2019 in Dana Point.
(Rachel Murray
Getty Images North America)
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Good morning, L.A. It’s Jan. 19.

For female firefighters, change at the L.A. Fire Department is a long time coming. A recent investigation from our newsroom found that women at LAFD have experienced decades of abuse, including “isolation, hostile pranks and training exercises designed to humiliate … threats of violence" and, in a few cases, assault.

New leadership could mark a crucial step forward. Mayor Eric Garcetti has nominated Kristen Crowley, a 22-year department veteran, as the city’s first female fire chief. 

The nomination follows the impending retirement of Chief Ralph Terrazas, who has spent nearly 40 years with the department.

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Terrazas’s tenure was fraught with allegations of sexism and racism among his ranks. In October, a group of women firefighters called for his resignation over what they called his "failure to address a pervasive racist and sexist culture.”

Speaking to our newsroom, some women detailed constant, daily abuse from their male colleagues who, they said, openly wanted the women to quit. 

One described human excrement left in shower stalls and bathroom floors in the women’s locker room. “The abuse got to the level [where] I would get physically ill arriving at my station,” she said. “And I threw up.”

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Another said her belongings were vandalized: “I was checking out all my equipment and I turned my helmet over," she recalled, "and someone at my station had written ‘trash’ inside of the helmet brim."

At the news conference announcing her appointment, Crowley, who is currently the acting Administrative Operations Chief Deputy and Fire Marshal, promised to "create and support and promote a culture that truly values diversity, inclusion and equity within the entire organization.”

Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A., and stay safe out there.

What Else You Need To Know Today

  • Free at-home covid test kits are now available through a federal website.
  • Homeless services providers and advocates are calling on L.A. leaders to put encampment cleanups on hold as COVID-19 outbreaks surge in shelters.
  • Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed spending $50 million on youth opioid education in his latest budget.
  • Omicron has left employers around the country — from airlines to organic markets to community health centers — short of workers, 
  • The Senate debated two measures that Democrats say would make it easier for all Americans to vote and reverse efforts by several states to limit ballot access.

Before You Go ... How To Make Friends In LA (Part 2)

A group of happy friends drinking and toasting friends at a bar or restaurant
L.A. Live invites you to eat, drink and play.
(Davide Angelini
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Assuming that there is a day when we can once again leave our homes, you may be interested in rethinking your friendships; cutting out toxic folks, meeting new people, and honing connections that are meaningful.

But that can be hard here in L.A., so we put together a handy guide to help you navigate the world of forging, nurturing and maintaining platonic relationships in this sprawling city of ours.

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