Frequently Asked Questions - Office of the Inspector General (OIG)
What does the OIG do?
The OIG conducts civilian oversight of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) in furtherance of holding the LAPD accountable to the people that it serves. Among other things, our office completes audits, reviews, and investigations of alleged misconduct, serious uses of force, and other areas of interest with respect to the LAPD.
What is the mission of the OIG?
The mission of the OIG is to: 1) provide strong, independent, and effective oversight of the LAPD; 2) ensure that all LAPD employees act with honesty, dignity, and respect toward the public; and 3) conduct community outreach to educate the public about the OIG, the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners (Police Commission), and the LAPD.
When was the OIG established?
The OIG was established in 1995 through a voter-approved amendment to the Los Angeles City Charter. A subsequent amendment to the charter, in 1999, clarified and expanded the authority of the OIG.
Who does the OIG report to?
The OIG reports directly to the all-civilian Police Commission, which is the head of the LAPD. The Police Commission consists of five members who are appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the City Council for five-year terms. The OIG is often referred to as the “eyes and ears” of the Police Commission given the oversight role that our office performs. We do not report to the LAPD’s Chief of Police and do not fall under the LAPD’s chain of command.
Where does the OIG’s authority to conduct oversight of the LAPD come from?
The OIG is authorized to oversee the LAPD by the Los Angeles Charter and Administrative Code as well as rules established by the Police Commission. The OIG can initiate any investigation of the LAPD it deems appropriate, unless directed not to do so by a majority of the Police Commission. In order to conduct its work, the OIG has access to all of the LAPD’s documents, data, audio/video records, etc., and all LAPD employees have an affirmative duty to cooperate fully with our office.
Does the OIG have subpoena power?
Yes, the OIG has the authority to subpoena witnesses and to compel the production of books, records, and other materials relevant to our work. However, the everyday access to the LAPD which our office operates with generally makes the issuance of subpoenas unnecessary.
Who works at the OIG?
The office is staffed by civilian professionals with diverse backgrounds relevant to the oversight of law enforcement and who share a demonstrated commitment to objective analysis and monitoring. OIG staff positions include investigators and performance auditors with experience in investigations, audits, legal and data analysis, law enforcement, and policy writing. Degrees/certifications earned by various OIG staff members include: Juris Doctorate degree, Master’s degree, Certified Practitioner of Oversight, Certified Law Enforcement Auditor, Certified Fraud Examiner, etc. The office is also assigned one sworn aide from the LAPD - a sergeant who reports directly to the Inspector General on a full-time basis.
Who hires the staff of the OIG?
The Police Commission appoints the Inspector General, who serves on an at-will basis. The Inspector General, in turn, is responsible for staffing the OIG.
How is the OIG organized internally?
The OIG is arranged into 5 primary sections, each of which is critical to meeting the office’s responsibilities:
Complaint Section - monitors the LAPD’s internal disciplinary process (including Professional Standards Bureau) and functions as an intake point for complaints of misconduct.
Audit Section - conducts systemic audits, reviews, and investigations of a wide variety of matters relevant to the performance of the LAPD as an agency, and makes recommendations based on findings when applicable.
Use of Force Section - analyzes LAPD investigations into critical incidents (such as officer-involved shootings) for thoroughness and impartiality, and formulates recommended adjudications of these incidents for presentation to the Police Commission.
Community Outreach - establishes and maintains connections between the OIG and the many communities that make up Los Angeles and that are impacted by the LAPD.
Administrative Section - supports all of the other sections in their work and also handles all office operational and administrative matters.
I filed a complaint of misconduct against an LAPD employee; now what?
All complaints of misconduct are routed to the LAPD’s Professional Standards Bureau (PSB), which initiates an investigation into the allegations raised in the complaint. The OIG maintains real-time, direct access to the LAPD’s complaint investigation database, and our staff also receives frequent briefings from PSB on pending investigations. This allows the OIG to actively monitor complaint investigations for thoroughness and impartiality and to raise concerns whenever they arise.
Complaint investigations can take up to a year or more to complete, based on their complexity. Once an investigation is completed, the complainant will be notified of its outcome (i.e. - whether the allegations raised were determined to be sustained or not). If any allegations were sustained against an LAPD police officer, complainants are generally not entitled to be advised of resulting disciplinary action taken against that officer; this is in accord with California, which considers peace officer personnel records to be confidential.
If you disagree with the outcome of your complaint once you have been notified of it by the LAPD, the OIG may be able to conduct a case review in order to ensure it was completed thoroughly and impartially.
Does the OIG discipline LAPD officers who have committed misconduct?
No. The Chief of Police has the sole authority to issue discipline when misconduct is determined to have occurred. Additionally, officers who are subject to discipline generally have the right to appeal it to an independent hearing examiner or a Board of Rights.
What does the OIG do when there has been an officer-involved shooting or other serious use of force?
Each time there is a serious use of force by one or more LAPD officers, including all officer-involved shootings, the OIG is required to be notified by the LAPD immediately. We maintain a rotation of employees who are on-call 24-hours/day to respond directly to the scene of such incidents. Upon our arrival, we immediately begin closely monitoring the investigation into the incident, which is conducted by the LAPD’s Force Investigation Division (FID). The OIG maintains direct, real-time access to all materials and evidence that are gathered in the investigation, such as Body-Worn Video recordings, and our staff also receives briefings from FID on their progress.
Due to their complexity, investigations into serious uses of force often take up to a year to complete. Once they are done, the LAPD and the OIG each craft a recommended set of adjudications with respect to the conduct of each officer who was substantially involved; these recommendations address, among other things, an officer’s tactics leading up to and during the incident, their decision to draw their firearm, and their decision to resort to force (including lethal force). In some cases, the OIG’s recommendations match those of the LAPD. In other cases, however, the OIG’s recommended adjudications do not match those arrived at by the LAPD. In all cases, both the LAPD’s and the OIG’s recommendations are presented to the Police Commission, which decides on the final adjudication of each matter in a closed session meeting. If any officer is deemed by the Police Commission to have acted outside of policy, the Chief of Police then determines what disciplinary or other remedial action to take.
To view the LAPD’s and the OIG’s recommendations in those officer-involved shooting or other serious use of force cases that have been publicly disclosed, you can visit the following website:
Does the OIG have any role in determining whether to charge LAPD officers with a crime?
No. Charging officers with crimes generally falls under the purview of the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office (or, in some cases, another prosecutorial office).
How does the OIG decide what areas of the LAPD to report on?
The OIG regularly follows guidance from the Police Commission with respect to what parts of the LAPD to review, audit, and/or report on. Additionally, the OIG relies on its own expertise and frequent interactions with the LAPD to determine areas of interest to be focused on. Examples of things that the OIG has reported on recently include an analysis of the LAPD’s detentions (or stops) of individuals; a review of the LAPD’s use of data-driven policing strategies; and an evaluation of the LAPD’s implementation of selected best practices as identified by the Final Report of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.
Where can I find reports about the LAPD that have been prepared by the OIG?
You can find our reports on our website: www.oig.lacity.org. You can also send an email to email@example.com and request to be added to the OIG’s distribution list, where you will be sent each new report upon its completion.
Does the OIG also oversee the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department (LASD)?
No. The authority of the OIG extends only to the Los Angeles Police Department. A separate civilian oversight office is responsible for overseeing the LASD, and you can find more information about it on its website: https://oig.lacounty.gov/.