The Los Angeles Police Department will consider Tuesday a new rule to specifically prohibit off-duty officers from being armed while impaired by alcohol.
The Board of Police Commissioners is set to vote on a policy that says officers, “shall not consume alcoholic beverages to the extent in which it causes impairment,” short of a ban on officers carrying their guns while drinking.
The LAPD declined to comment on the reason for the proposed rule change, or whether or not there are other rules limiting alcohol use for off-duty officers. The union that represents most officers, the Los Angeles Police Protective League, also did not respond.
Chief Michel Moore urged the Commissioners in a memo to approve the rule change, writing, “an employee’s good judgment and physical skill in handling a firearm can oftentimes be greatly diminished by intoxication, which can jeopardize public safety as well as the safety of our employees and their loved ones.”
There have been a number of alcohol-related incidents involving off-duty officers in recent years though few publicly disclosed consequences.
In December the Department warned officers to stop driving drunk following seven alcohol-related arrests of off-duty officers in the first two weeks of the month alone.
In 2020 a group of officers drinking whiskey off-duty at a camp site in San Bernardino County began shooting at one another in the middle of the night, leaving one officer with a critical neck wound.
In 2019 an armed, off-duty detective became involved in a fight and shot a homeless man on Skid Row after leaving a party at a bar. Detective Michael Johnson had his gun stolen during the altercation and Chief Moore later said publicly he expected Johnson to be fired.
Instead a Board of Rights imposed a 55-day suspension, which Johnson is still challenging in court. A hearing in his case is set for May.
According to the LAPD’s public discipline disclosures for 2021 and 2022 only three officers have faced significant penalties for alcohol related incidents, such as off-duty DUI arrests. The discipline reports, however, are an incomplete accounting because public misconduct reports are sanitized by the Department to remove identifying information, and only the most serious cases are included.