Lead Story West Edition

Black attorney takes seat on Police Commission

LOS ANGELES Attorney Cynthia McClain-Hill was sworn in Aug. 3 at City Hall as the newest member of the Los Angeles Police Commission. Her nomination by Mayor Eric Garcetti was confirmed by the City Council Aug. 2.

“I’m delighted and frankly humbled by the nomination,” McClain-Hill said. “It comes at a time when relations between the African-American community and the police are particularly fragile. My own measure of my success as a commissioner will be to increase dialogue between police and the community.”

She described the Watts Gang Task Force, a group of community leaders, police officers, school representatives, service providers and gang intervention workers committed to stopping violence as a “bright spot” and said she hopes to expand that model across South L.A.

She is also looking forward to addressing policy concerns such as access to videotape of violence and shootings.

“Cynthia brings a vital perspective to the Police Commission at an important moment in our history — as we build better trust between our officers and the people they serve, implement the principles of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, and equip our officers with the tools they need to keep our neighborhoods, and themselves, safe,” Garcetti said. “Her strong ties to the community will be a valuable asset in the work of civilian oversight, and I am confident in her commitment to helping lead an LAPD defined by the transparency and accountability that Angelenos need, want and deserve.”

The former California Coastal Commission member will replace Robert Saltzman, who is termed out. Her term runs through June 30, 2021.

McClain-Hill is coming aboard during a volatile time in the relationship between police and the black and Latino communities. Police Commission and departmental decisions around police shootings have been met with vocal protests by Black Lives Matter members at the panel’s recent meetings.

Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson said when he went to McClain-Hill, who he considers a prominent black businesswoman and community leader, to seek her support for his council run, “the first thing out of her mouth wasn’t ‘How are you going to win?’ or ‘Are you going to support my clients?’ It was ‘What are you going to do about police community relations?’”

He said McClain-Hill told him, “‘Marqueece, I have a black son,’ and that touched me a whole lot and makes me super excited that you’re there,” he said. “Because you’re going to remember … what every mom thinks about, what my mom to this day thinks about, every time one of their children leaves the house.”

City Council President Herb Wesson said he has known McClain-Hill for “quite awhile,” praising her as “a class act and unbelievably capable.”

McClain-Hill told the council that she has “tremendous faith in our ability to rise to the occasion, both as we face the tumult in certain communities over policing, and also as we continue to strengthen and improve the really fine department that we have the privilege of having in the city of Los Angeles.”

In nominating her earlier this year, Garcetti described the managing director of the Los Angeles law firm Strategic Counsel PLC as a “respected attorney whose impressive record of service — including at the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency, on the California Coastal Commission and as a leader in the National Association of Women Business Owners — will bring valuable experience to the Police Commission.”

“She is an independent thinker with a sharp and analytical mind, and shares my vision for an LAPD that fully embraces the demands of 21st century policing and gives officers the steady support they need to keep our streets safe,” he said.

City News Service contributed to this report.