Thursday it was reported that a Los Angeles Police Department administrative hearing known as a Board of Rights (BOR) recommended the termination of LAPD Detective Frank Lyga as a result of racist, sexist and inflammatory remarks he made last year during a joint LAPD training day. The truth is, Det. Lyga quite possibly may live to offend again; with another agency.
Det. Frank Lyga is a 28-year LAPD veteran. As such, he certainly has earned the right to retire, with a lifetime pension. As a retired LAPD sergeant, I will be the first to declare that a service pension earned should not be denied -- under any circumstance. However, there should be a designation made on the bottom line of Detective Frank Lyga’s retirement page to indicate that he was factually found guilty by an administrative process and should forever more bear the mark of a disgraced officer.
Det. Frank Lyga, who is white, during the training day bragged about a day back in 1997, when he shot and killed off-duty LAPD officer Kevin Gaines; a black man. Lyga told the group that he had no regrets over the murder of Gaines, saying "I wished I could've killed more of them." I for one have been waiting to hear exactly what Lyga meant in his reference to "them". It sounded to me and a lot of other people as though he dreamed of shooting more black men. This story was first reported, after an audio tape had been obtained and delivered to political consultant Jasmyne Cannick.
Sadly, I don't think Lyga will be fired by LAPD's Police Chief Charlie Beck. No, Detective Lyga will grab a handful of retirement papers and run over to police headquarters where he will meet with the retirement counselor and then make his way over to the pension department well before Chief Beck can hit the “send” button his [Lyga’s ] termination papers.
Errant police officers who have been found guilty of serious misconduct at a Board of Rights hearing have routinely been allowed to leave the department, in the middle of the night, under a cloud of mystery and suspicion. This is part of the LAPD culture.
Errant police officers who have been found guilty of serious misconduct at a BOR have routinely been allowed to leave the department, in the middle of the night, under a cloud of mystery and suspicion. This is part of the LAPD culture. This is partly what's wrong with the LAPD's disciplinary system. Only those officers connected to the right sponsors are lucky enough to slither away without a bruise to show for their transgressions. So, before Chief Beck takes his victory lap for agreeing to side with the BOR’s termination decision, let me explain how the system "pretends" to work.
Lyga has three days to retire now that his BOR has concluded. So, let’s say hypothetically that a chief decided to wait until the end of day three to sign on the dotted line – the officer in jeopardy could, if he acted quickly, “retire on day two.” That newly retired officer is then able to ride off into the sunset.
This scenario is much like the one that played out a couple of weeks ago when the California Highway Patrol “allowed” Officer Daniel Andrew to “step down”. The fact that the CHP allowed Officer Andrew to resign is an insult and punch in the face [pun intended] to everyone who witnessed the mixed martial arts-style beating Marlene Pinnock suffered at the hands of Andrew. “Former” officer Andrew possibly lives to offend again; on another police department. The distinction between “former” and “fired” is vast in the law enforcement community.
This might be a good time for Chief Beck to fix that loophole that “allows” an officer to retire after having been found guilty of serious misconduct without any reference to the egregious acts that led to his recommended removal.
Black and Blue