When former Van Nuys Division police captain Paul Snell walked into the Role-Call room in the basement of the Van Nuys station Thursday night, cops and civilians both cheered.
Snell, who has led the troops in Van Nuys for nearly two years, left the division just this week, a transition that was not taken lightly.
Snell was born and raised in the Newton area of South Los Angeles. He graduated from Occidental College in 1979, where Barack Obama was a freshman that same year. He joined LAPD in 1984 after serving two years as an officer with the Los Angeles World Airports. With the LAPD he worked at Southwest, Pacific, Wilshire, Hollywood, Newton, Juvenile Division, and was the first Officer in Charge of the TEAMS II Development Unit, about which he spoke.
He also served as an aide to former Chief William Bratton. Snell is being relocated to the Southwest division, which happens to be closer to his home. Area Captain Ivan Minsal, who took the place of Snell, and new Patrol Captain Brian Pratt both took a moment to commemorate his service.
“The great Paul Snell was here for almost two years,” said Captain Ivan Minsal to a group assembled of police, press and the public. “During that time, he led us with valor and kindness. He will be missed. “
Snell asked Minsal to discuss the TEAMS II program, and Minsal explained that in 2001, the United States District Court entered a Consent Decree between the City of Los Angeles and the United States Department of Justice which mandates the implementation of an "early warning system" that is a successor to and not merely a modification of the current LAPD TEAMS system, called TEAMS II.
The centerpiece of the TEAMS II Development Program, Minsal explained, is the Risk Management Information System (RMIS), which establishes a database containing relevant information about LAPD employees, including officers, supervisors, and managers, to promote professionalism and best policing practices. Also, it is used to assist in identifying and modifying potential at-risk behaviors.
Captain Brian Pratt, who has served the force since 1988 in Central, Southeast, and Rampart Areas as a patrol officer, Special Problems Unit officer, and Gang Enforcement Detail officer, addressed the crowd regarding TEAMS II.
“There have been several incidents in the press regarding the LAPD,” he said. “These are active cases, and so I do not want to address them specifically. But I do want to make a few points.”
Pratt then went on to expound at some length about the issue of Use of Force. He shared statistics, which showed that the LAPD resorted to a Use of Force in their arrests in usually less than 2 percent of all arrests.
“Use of Force is rare,” Pratt emphasized. “And when it is utilized, it is very serious.”
Every categorical Use of Force, Pratt explained, is intricately detailed in records, defined, and investigated. The public can review each and every Use of Force throughout the city here.
Pratt expounded with great detail on the intensive process that takes place in order to review each and every LAPD Use of Force.
Captain Ivan Minsal then stepped up to address the group. Appointed to the Department in September 1981, he was promoted to detective in July 1988 and to sergeant in December 1988. As a police officer, he has worked Pacific Patrol Division, 77th Street Patrol Division, North Hollywood Patrol Division, North Hollywood Area Vice and North Hollywood Detective Division.
Minsal paid tribute to retiring officer Ron Carter, who was sitting near the rear of the room, a 33-year veteran with the LAPD. Carter stood briefly as his associates applauded for his service.
Minsal then emphasized that cops on the beat are human, and not impervious to difficult circumstances.
“We are not robots,” he said. “We’re humans. We get scared. If you think cops never get scared, you’re wrong. And we depend on you, we depend on the public, to keep an open avenue of communication."
“Transparency matters,” Minsal added. “We want to be as open as possible. That is the aim.”
Although he said he was about to leave on a trip to Alaska with his wife, Minsal vowed to be back soon and always accessible.
“I am here for you. If you have concerns, I want to know them. If you have questions, call me up. My number is 818-644-8030.”
Captain Pratt stood up and offered his number as well: “213-258-6414.”