NYU Professor, LAPD Commissioner, Sheriff’s Inspector General to Focus on “Citizen Participation in Policing Policy” at Pasadena Forum

Published : Tuesday, April 3, 2018 | 5:43 AM

From Left to Right: Barry Friedman, Founder of NYU Law School’s Policing Project, and author of Unwarranted: Policing without Permission; Max Huntsman, Inspector General, LA Sheriff Department; and Matt Johnson, Commissioner, LA Police Department.

From Left to Right: Matt Johnson, Commissioner, LA Police Department; Max Huntsman, Inspector General, LA Sheriff Department; and Barry Friedman, Founder of NYU Law School’s Policing Project, and author of Unwarranted: Policing without Permission.

A forum in Pasadena on Thursday will bring together well-respected experts to discuss the concept of “democratic policing” in a modern America where technology has put law enforcement under the microscope and raised debate about the relationship between communities and their police.

The forum comes in a week dominated by news that the City of Pasadena has agreed to pay a $1.5 million settlement to the family of a local man who died in police custody in 2016. That incident led to local activists demanding greater police transparency and civilian oversight of Pasadena police.

Each of Thursday’s planned speakers have years of experience in investigations and reviews of police conduct and the discussion will center around the process of changing policing policies.

“Democratic Policing: Citizen Participation in Policing Policy” is scheduled to feature Barry Friedman, Founder of NYU Law School’s Policing Project, and author of Unwarranted: Policing without Permission; Max Huntsman, Inspector General, LA Sheriff Department; and Matt Johnson, Commissioner, LA Police Department.

“I realized as much as anyone exactly how important a safe, healthy society is, but to get there, we all have to have a voice and how we’re policed. We have to believe in it. We do have to back up the police, but to back up the police, we have to be involved, we have to be consulted, we have to be allowed to have an opinion and that’s really critical,” said NYU Professor of Law and discussion panelist Barry Friedman in a video statement on NYU’s website.

Professor Friedman is one of the country’s leading authorities on constitutional law, criminal procedure, and the federal courts.

Friedman writes extensively about police regulation, constitutional law and theory, federal jurisdiction, and judicial behavior. He authored the critically-acclaimed book, The Will of the People: How Public Opinion Has Influenced the Supreme Court and Shaped the Meaning of the Constitution (2009), and the widely-discussed book on policing and the Constitution, Unwarranted: Policing without Permission, (2017).

Friedman currently serves as the Founding Director of the Policing Project at NYU Law which is devoted to helping bring principles of democratic governance and data-driven best practices to policing, according to the project’s website.

Friedman’s scholarship appears regularly in the nation’s top law and peer-edited reviews, and he is a frequent contributor to the nation’s leading publications, including The New York Times, Slate, The Los Angeles Times, Politico and The New Republic, among others.

“Most people who work on policing don’t come from that background and I think it’s that constitutional law scholarship of mine made me understand that what was missing from policing was democratic governance, that the very tools that we use throughout the rest of government were absent from policing, and maybe if we could bring them into policing, we could change things in a positive way,” said Friedman will present his panel discussion via a live video conference feed as he is currently abroad.

Friedman will be joined by fellow panelist, lawyer, and Vice President of the Los Angeles Police Commission Matt Johnson who was was appointed by the City of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti in 2015.

Los Angeles Police Commissioner Johnson is the managing partner of Ziffren Brittenham LLP.

“Today, there really isn’t a more pressing or important issue that we’re dealing with as a society than police-community relations,” Johnson told the LA Times shortly after being appointed in 2015.

The record shows that Johnson has expressed interested in taking a new approach into looking at the way the LAPD trains its officers, focusing on interactions with people who confront officers with knives and providing officers with less-lethal options to prevent officers from resorting to using guns, according to the LA Times.

“I’m sure that there are lots of things that can be done better,” he said. “We always have to have a culture of trying to improve.”

The discussion also includes panelist Max Huntsman who heads the LA County Office of Inspector General.

The Office of Inspector General was created by The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in 2014 to provide independent and comprehensive oversight and monitoring of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and its jail facilities.

The Inspector General reports directly to the Board of Supervisors and makes regular reports to the Board on the Sheriff’s Department’s operations.

“I plan to provide information regarding my office and other reforms instituted at the county level,” explained Huntsman in an email statement.

Huntsman says the discussion topic of citizen participation in policing policy is a critical aspect of democratic policing and arguably democracy in general.

“At the county level, my office and our overseeing commission were created to help with just this issue,” said Huntsman.

As Inspector General for the county, Huntsman has complete access to the Sheriff’s Department and a staff of highly experienced professionals to evaluate what they learn.

Huntsman’s staff includes people with a variety of types of experience, including criminal prosecution, criminal defense, government and private oversight, policing, auditing, and social work.

“My expertise is primarily that I’ve had a front-row seat during a reform process instituted by the county,” said Huntsman.

Prior to being Inspector General Huntsman was a deputy district attorney in Los Angeles County for over twenty years and worked in the Special Investigations Division and Justice System Integrity Divisions analyzing police misconduct allegations and uses of force where he also handled a number of high profile public corruption prosecutions.

Although reservations for the League of Women Voters event are closed, Pasadena Now will report on the forum on Friday morning. For more information about the event, call (626) 798-0965, from 10 a.m.–1 p.m., Monday–Friday, or e-mail office@lwv-pa.org.