Tuesday, October 11, 2011

#LAFD chief punishes self for racy photos #CaFire

He said he was disciplining himself to demonstrate that all members of the Los Angeles Fire Department are subject to the same rules
The Daily News of Los Angeles
LOS ANGELES — LAFD Chief Brian Cummings, who is investigating a 2008 film shoot involving several firefighters and a porn star, said Friday he is sentencing himself to 120 hours of unpaid community service for being photographed with a bikini-clad woman while on duty 13 years ago.
Cummings, who was promoted to fire chief only last month, said he was disciplining himself to demonstrate that all members of the Los Angeles Fire Department are subject to the same rules.
"I was the captain at the Venice fire station when a woman in a bikini walked by and we asked her if she wanted to take a picture," Cummings said in an interview.
"She was not a model and no money was exchanged. But it was wrong and an improper use of fire equipment," Cummings said. "To be honest, I had forgot about it until this investigation came up."
Cummings is investigating whether firefighters cooperated in a 2008 video shot by actress Charley Chase, who appeared topless as she posed on a fire engine parked at Venice Beach. Chase has blogged that her actions were spontaneous and that the firefighters filmed watching her were not actually involved in the shoot.
Cummings said the inquiry continues even though the statute of limitations for imposing discipline on the firefighters has passed.
"As part of the response to these videos, I will present in November a Code of Conduct to the Fire Commission for its approval," Cummings said. "In addition, I am developing a Code of Ethics and will present this by the end of the calendar year."
Once adopted, Cummings said he will personally lead training of firefighters on the new policies.
He said the new policies will complement the department's core values program - Service, Professionalism, Integrity, Respect, Innovation and Trust - which has been in place for the past four years.
Cummings said he had told Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa about his involvement in the 1998 incident and also presented the photo and reported the information to the department's new Professional Standards Division.
Villaraigosa said he accepted Cummings' apology and endorsed his proposed codes of ethics and conduct.
"I support his proposed steps to rebuild the public's confidence in his professionalism," Villaraigosa said. "Despite his missteps some years ago, I strongly believe that Chief Cummings has the skills and expertise to be an innovative leader.
"While serious, this incident does not tarnish his entire career. Indeed, in recognizing his mistake and accepting the consequences of his actions, Chief Cummings has demonstrated his basic integrity and leadership."
The mayor said he also has talked with Cummings about the investigation into the porn movie and said it is imperative to determine whether the firefighters were knowingly involved. He also said the entire Fire Department needs to know such behavior will not be tolerated.
The mayor said he would support a change in the City Charter giving the fire chief wider latitude in discipline.
"The residents of this city place a profound level of trust in the Fire Department," Villaraigosa said. "They look to the men and women of the fire service to keep them safe and secure. They rightly demand a world-class department that upholds the highest ethical and professional standards."

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