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Police Union Suing City of L.A. Over New LAPD Vehicle Impound Policy

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The Los Angeles Police Protective League (LAPPL) has decided to take their frustration to a judge, and has announced they will file suit against the City of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Police Department in response to the newly-implemented policies regarding vehicle impounding for unlicensed drivers.

The LAPPL says the controversial policy, approved after a lengthy debate, "conflicts with state law and thus necessitates judicial clarification for officers concerned about complying with state law while still fulfilling their duties as law enforcement officers for the City of Los Angeles."

Further, claims the LAPPL, "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 new policy provides some drivers with a potential way to avoid a mandatory 30-day vehicle impound if they can provide authorities with valid identification, car registration and proof of insurance.

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Under the new policy, drivers who were at fault in an accident, who had their licenses suspended, revoked or had been caught previously driving without a license would not qualify for a shortened impound.

However, the new policy leaves room for unlicensed drivers to get back on the road, since the "valid identification" does not mean specifically a driver's license. The predominant concern here is that unlicensed drivers in California may also be undocumented immigrants; the LAPPL emphasize, though, that their lawsuit "is not a position on immigration policy or the status of undocumented immigrants in this country."

LAPPL President Tyler Izen says the new policy puts LAPD officers in a "Catch-22" kind of situation while enforcing the new policy, because they are tasked with protecting the public's safety, but could also be endangering it by permitting unlicensed drivers to take the wheel after a police encounter.

"Our lawsuit is based on our duty to fairly represent and protect the working conditions of LAPD officers,” says Izen. “As sworn officers of the City of Los Angeles and peace officers of the State of California, they are required to enforce all applicable state traffic laws, irrespective of a traffic violator’s immigration status. Equally important is the duty of police officers to obey all administrative legal policies approved by the Police Commission and implemented by the Chief of Police.”