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Mayor's Response Concerns Voter

December 10, 1989

In a story concerning contemplated changes in the manner in which the Torrance Police Department conducts internal affairs investigations (Times, Nov. 30), Torrance Mayor Katy Geissert is quoted as stating that she has "not seen any basis for criticism" and that she has received "very little mail on the subject." With these broad statements, Mayor Geissert rejects calls for reform beyond cosmetic changes in the Police Department's computer program.

These statements prompt me to write to the Los Angeles Times in order to inform Mayor Geissert that there is at least one registered voter in Torrance who is concerned that a jury composed of 12 disinterested citizens awarded $5.5 million based upon a finding that the Torrance Police Department routinely condones and covers up misconduct as part of an ongoing pattern.

There is at least one Torrance citizen who is concerned that the $5.5-million judgment and the $2.1 million in awarded plaintiff costs may end up coming from Torrance's general revenue coffers. The city's insurance carrier has already indicated that its coverage includes claims arising from negligence but not from the type of willful misconduct that the jury found against the Torrance Police Department.

There is at least one Torrance citizen who is concerned that Mayor Geissert seems content to allow the Police Department to continue to investigate itself, despite evidence that the department failed in this task at least once. Perhaps Mayor Geissert does not understand that American legal and political principles are postulated upon notions of checks and balances, independent corroboration of evidence and not being allowed to be a judge in one's own cause.

There is at least one Torrance citizen who is concerned that some members of the Torrance City Council seem more comfortable micromanaging second-story home additions and deciding whether local department stores ought to be permitted red signs against blue backgrounds than tackling difficult problems such as the ones presented in the Rastello vs. Green case.

The police are entrusted with an extraordinarily difficult task. By and large, the Torrance Police Department performs this difficult task well. Hysterical calls for purges of the police ranks and calls for adoption of Draconian measures serve only to demoralize and hinder the police in the performance of their difficult duties. However, ignoring the reasoned judgment of 12 disinterested citizens serves only to miss an opportunity to make changes that will result in a better Police Department and community.

I doubt that I am alone in these concerns.



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