CHAPTER FIVE: COMMUNITY RELATIONS
During the past century, the purposes and methods of policing have evolved as different philosophies or models have dominated police behavior. The LAPD's current approach is the product of a reform era that emphasized creation of professionalism within the force. A "professional" model of policing is primarily concerned with maintaining a well-disciplined, highly trained and technically sophisticated force insulated from improper political influence. Crime fighting is seen as the principal objective of policing.
Evidence from all sources . . . describes the LAPD as having a "professional" organizational culture that has emphasized crime control over crime prevention and isolated the police from the communities and the people they serve.
Assistant Chief Dotson described the LAPD as "stuck" in a "1950s sort of world view." The consequence of the 1950s approach, according to Chief Dotson, is confrontation with the public.
A number of commanding officers share the opinion that too many LAPD patrol officers view the public with resentment and hostility. That opinion was also expressed by former Assistant Chief Brewer, who testified that he has believed for several years that officers' conduct is "out of control" in terms of rude and disrespectful treatment of the public.
William Rathburn, chief of police of Dallas, Tex., and former deputy chief of the LAPD, testified that many techniques and procedures used by the LAPD tend to exacerbate, rather than calm, potentially volatile situations.
Community-based policing proponents argue that the existing strategy of policing--which depends on random and directed patrol, rapid response to calls for service and retrospective investigations of crime--is not succeeding. Crime remains high; the public remains fearful.
Community policing emphasizes a department-wide philosophy oriented toward problem solving rather than arrest statistics. The concept also relies heavily on the articulation of policing values that incorporate community involvement in matters that directly affect the safety and quality of neighborhood life.
Community policing concepts are not foreign to the LAPD; it has made several efforts to incorporate them into the "professionalism model" the LAPD embodies.
Beginning in 1979, Chief Gates began to emphasize priorities that turned away from the team policing system and recentralized authority in headquarters, in part because of budget constraints and a reduction in the number of officers.
Community policing concepts, if successfully implemented, offer the prospect of effective crime prevention and substantially improved community relations.
The commission believes that the LAPD should adopt the community-based policing model and implement it fully, albeit carefully, throughout the department.
CHAPTER SIX: RECRUITMENT, SELECTION AND PSYCHOLOGICAL TESTING
The commission has determined that many emotional and psychological problems develop during an officer's tenure on the force and cannot be detected by pre-employment screening. Accordingly, a principal recommendation of the commission is that officers should be retested regularly for psychological, emotional and physical problems.
In interviews with the commission staff, employees of the city Personnel Department stated their belief that the LAPD's background investigators often focus their attention on a candidate's use of drugs and sexual history and gloss over information concerning a candidate's violent tendencies and inability to interact with others.
The background investigation offers the best hope of screening out violence-prone applicants. Unfortunately, the background investigators are overworked and inadequately trained.
CHAPTER SEVEN: TRAINING
The Police Academy enjoys a reputation as an excellent training institution, and the commission found the quality of its instruction generally impressive.
Many of the cultural awareness classes now are taught with the assistance of sworn personnel from the respective minority groups. However, there is no such representation for the class on gay and lesbian issues. The department should seek the assistance of gay and lesbian officers to teach the class.
As part of the department's effort to recognize the changing face of the communities it serves, the department provides recruits with approximately 95 hours of basic Spanish language training. The commission agrees that foreign language skills are very important. The current language program, however, has been uniformly criticized by LAPD officers as ineffective. At present, a recruit can graduate from the academy without passing this class.
At present, approximately 90-95% of each entering academy class graduates. Less than 10 years ago that rate was closer to 60%. A portion of this change, however, seems attributable to an unwillingness to terminate poorly performing recruits.
Training of Probationers