City of Bell Police Officer Association denies use of baseball game quota system
Competition to issue the most tickets
BELL, Calif.—A memo apparently outlining a game in which Bell police officers could compete to issue the most tickets, impound cars and arrest motorists was actually a parody of the city's "profoundly nonsensical'' towing policy, the Bell Police Officers' Association contended today.
A memo discovered in Bell police files and obtained by the Los Angeles Times appears to detail a "baseball game'' quota system in which "singles,'' "doubles,'' "triples'' and "home runs'' are assigned to infractions ranging from parking tickets to felony arrests.
It was unclear who actually wrote the memo or if it was ever implemented.
In a statement issued today, the Bell Police Officers' Association contended that the memo was "a parody'' of former Bell administrator Robert Rizzo's towing policy.
"In short, this memo is much ado about nothing since the memo was never meant as a standardized policy but rather a parody,'' according to the statement. "We are confident as they uncover the truth about Robert Rizzo's 'towing policy,' they will find that Bell police officers have consistently opposed the now-defunct policy often at the risk of their own jobs.''
According to the association, "at no time did Bell police officers willfully participate in any type of quota system. There were several attempts by Robert Rizzo to implement quotas most notably under former Police Chief Randy Adams. Bell police officers consistently protested the 'towing policy' and many were reprimanded for their disapproval. In fact, Bell police officers were the first to expose the constitutionality of such a policy.
"The truth is the memo was merely a parody of Robert Rizzo's profoundly nonsensical 'towing policy,''' the association contended.
Rizzo is charged with 44 counts of misappropriation of public funds, six counts of falsification of records by an official custodian, three counts of conflict of interest and one count of public officer crime. He also is charged in a separate case with two counts of misappropriation of public funds.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Henry J. Hall began hearing evidence last week against the 57-year-old Rizzo and former Assistant City Administrator Angela Spaccia, 52, who is charged with four counts of misappropriation of public funds.
Hall ordered six current and former Bell city officials to stand trial on similar charges.
LOS ANGELES, Calif.—Bell's former top administrator was hospitalized with chest pains today during a break in a hearing to determine if he should stand trial on charges of bilking millions of dollars in taxpayer money.
Robert Rizzo, 57, was taken out of the Criminal Courts Building in downtown Los Angeles on a gurney and loaded into an ambulance. He apparently began complaining of chest pains after a preliminary hearing in his case broke for lunch.
LOS ANGELES, Calif.—A judge today refused to order the city of Bell to reimburse its embattled former city manager for his legal costs in defending himself from civil and criminal allegations that he conspired to defraud the municipality out of millions of dollars.
Robert Rizzo is defending himself in a civil case by his former employer and a felony complaint filed by the District Attorney’s Office. He wanted a declaration from Judge Ralph Dau that the city should indemnify him for the money he has spent to hire legal counsel.
LOS ANGELES, Calif.—Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa called today for an investigation of the Department of Transportation and ordered the immediate end of its controversial "Gold Card Desk,'' which has helped some residents dispose of parking tickets.
Villaraigosa called for the probe in a letter sent to DOT Interim General Manager Amir Sedadi.
"Various issues over the past few weeks point to glaring weaknesses at LADOT,'' the mayor wrote.
''We are well beyond the point of isolated incidents or a coincidence of events.''
LOS ANGELES, Calif.—The city Department of Transportation has failed to collect an estimated $5.4 million in unpaid parking tickets by not aggressively pursuing ticket "scofflaws,'' according to a city controller's audit released today.
LOS ANGELES, Calif.—The Los Angeles Times won a Pulitzer Prize for public service today for its investigation that uncovered hefty salaries being earned by top officials in the city of Bell and led to criminal charges being filed against eight people.
Los Angeles Times photographer Barbara Davidson also won a Pulitzer for feature photography for her series of photos on the victims of violent gang crime.