The Los Angeles city Fire Commission named a lawyer from the office of Mayor Eric Garcetti as the Fire Department's new internal watchdog, reports The Los Angeles Times.
The independent assessor position was created by voters in 2009 to audit the handling of misconduct complaints against LAFD employees. It was prompted by a wave of discrimination and harassment allegations that cost taxpayers nearly $20 million in legal payouts over several years.
In a unanimous vote after emerging from a closed-door session, the commission appointed Sue Stengel. Stengel has worked as a public defender and a City Council aide, in addition to serving in oversight roles at the LAPD and state prison system. She is serving in Garcetti's administration as a policy director in the homeland security department.
"My priorities in overhauling the Los Angeles Fire Department are to reduce response times and change its culture," Garcetti said in a written statement. "Sue Stengel brings a wealth of experience to the position and will play a crucial role in reforming the department."
Attorney Stephen E. Miller, the first person to hold the post, claimed city attorneys prevented him from doing his job by blocking access to firefighter personnel files. That sparked a lengthy, ongoing legal dispute between Miller and city lawyers marked by charges and countercharges of misconduct.
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