On November 2, 2021, The Giving List featured a profile article on William Briggs, in which he discussed the importance of not letting life circumstances inhibit his ambitions, and how the events of 2020 brought him to join the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners, a powerful civilian panel that oversees one of the largest police forces in the country.
According to the article, when a friend and former member of the Board of Police Commissioners asked him if he would consider joining the board, Briggs, a civically active, successful entertainment lawyer, was skeptical. He didn’t support defunding the police, but he came around because he supported other reforms he believed could heal L.A. by benefiting both the police and the community. He accepted Mayor Eric Garcetti’s nomination and joined in December 2020. “It’s my way of giving back to the city that raised me and made me who I am,” Briggs said.
Briggs isn’t naïve about the hurdles to changing LAPD culture and operating practices, but he says there has been progress on measures to hold officers accountable and reduce their role in incidents involving the mentally ill and the homeless. Crucially, he is advocating for more training so, when possible, officers can de-escalate armed confrontations without using deadly force and reduce non-lethal force when, say, breaking up protests.
Enhanced training is expensive. But over the long run, it may save the city grief and money, Briggs argues. It might have prevented a rash of lawsuits seeking damages over officer shootings and actions during the BLM protests. “We can either spend millions of dollars now to train officers or hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements later.”
Despite the pressure and public scrutiny, Briggs enjoys serving on the Board of Police Commissioners, saying, “I want to be a partner in the effort to make long-lasting changes that I think will be impactful.”
Click here to access the article.