Maggie Goodrich ’04, the Chief Information Officer for the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), is a renaissance woman if ever there was one. Prior to beginning law school, Goodrich received a bachelor’s degree in music and later worked as an Information Technology Project Manager, in which she oversaw large software development projects.
She began applying to law schools at the tail end of the dot com bubble, which was perfect timing because the tech company she worked for started layoffs shortly thereafter. And ultimately, it was always her dream to be in the courtroom. “My voice teacher in college told me to do what I love,” Goodrich said.
After graduating, she worked as an associate at the litigations firm — Howrey LLP —where she specialized in white-collar criminal defense and criminal investigations for about a year. In a turn of fate, her employer at the firm was named Deputy Mayor for Homeland Security and Public Safety for the City of Los Angeles, and he asked her to join him there as the Policy Director. At the Mayor’s office she directed policy initiatives that pertained to public safety. At the time, the LAPD was under a federal consent decree — a settlement agreement between the LAPD and the Department of Justice as a result of allegations of pervasive police misconduct by the LAPD — that required the LAPD to develop a computer system that would both monitor police behavior and serve as an early warning system to identify potential at-risk officer behavior. Given her technical and legal background, she was asked to manage the consent decree and to later implement the early warning system for the LAPD. We recently talked to Goodrich about her unique background and how that’s influenced her career decisions.
Q: How did you become the CIO of the LAPD?
A: I managed the consent decree out of the mayor’s office for a year, and then I was going to go back to private practice to do more white-collar defense work, but the chief of the LAPD, Bill Bratton, asked me if I would help him deploy the early warning system. The LAPD was having difficulty deploying the system, so I agreed to get the system off of the ground for six months, and then I planned on working for a law firm. That was nine years ago. I ended up really loving working for the police department. I feel like I’m making a difference for both the officers and the community.
I also still get the component of what I liked about being on stage and in the courtroom. On Saturday I was in front of 130 people at the IACP- International Association of Chief of Police—where I spoke about the privacy and policy challenges of implementing technology within a law enforcement setting.
Q: What are some of your responsibilities?
A: I helped the LAPD deploy the early warning system and to achieve compliance with the provisions of the consent decree, which was ultimately terminated. Because I am also an attorney, I became responsible for all contracts and procurement for the LAPD, as well as all private, state and federal grant funding. At the end of 2009, I was named CIO and was asked to manage all technology for the LAPD, in addition to my existing responsibilities.
We’re also deploying body cameras for each officer to wear, which will record their interactions with the public. There are a lot of privacy concerns and policy considerations associated with recording police public contacts.
Q: How does having a law degree help you as a CIO?
A: My law degree taught me a lot about analysis and problem solving, which is a big aspect of my job. I think that you can take those skills with you into many careers. Having a legal background also helps in analysis of policy, as well as developing use guidelines and regulations on how technology can be used. A legal background also helped me sit down with the ACLU and have a conversation about their concerns.
For example, one of the big issues with the body cameras is whether or not you should publically release any of the footage, so my legal background helps me understand the California Public Records Act and to discuss it at length as we are developing our policies.
Q: What's one of the most challenging aspects of your job?
A: One challenge is balancing the interests of the LAPD with the interests of the public, while also providing services to the community. It’s a task that has to be done properly and carefully.
It requires determining how to provide the best customer service to the community. I think that there has been a real shift in law enforcement over the past few years, because now the cops don’t just arrest bad guys, but they’re also providing services to the community. The police also have to deal with major issues that face society like homelessness and mental illness.
The body cameras are being implemented to further the service element to the community, but they have a dual purpose. While the cameras will serve the traditional purpose of being used for criminal prosecution, they’ll also be used to hold officers accountable and to ensure that they’re behaving professionally, as well as providing the best service that they can to the community.
Q: If you could give any advice to UC Hastings students, what would it be?
A: Explore what you enjoy and keep your options open. When I originally went to law school, I thought that I would focus on intellectual property law because of my technology background. And now I’m the CIO of the LAPD.
Don’t be afraid to explore different areas of the law or even areas outside of the law. A law degree gives you the foundation to do an unlimited number of things.