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Police Morale Worse Under Williams, Union Chief Says

July 24, 1993|DAVID FERRELL | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Morale within the Los Angeles Police Department is worse now than when Chief Willie L. Williams took over the embattled department a year ago, largely because of unresolved contract talks, worn and broken equipment and unsafe working conditions for some officers, the head of the police union charged Friday.

"Chief Williams has been here a year and we haven't seen morale go up--in fact, we've seen a decline in morale," Dave Zeigler, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, said in downtown Los Angeles.

The union, which represents more than 7,000 LAPD officers, aired many of its complaints after an in-house survey citing widespread complaints about LAPD supervisors and escalating racial tensions became public Wednesday, Zeigler said.

In elaborating on the survey Friday, the union president and several officers complained about police cars with more than 140,000 miles on them, broken shotgun racks that left officers without the use of the shotguns and deployment levels that sometimes dipped below minimum standards.

In one instance, an officer with an aging bullet-resistant vest was told he could not get a new one unless he lost the old one, even though the old vest was falling apart, Zeigler said. "It's a Catch-22," the union president said. "If he loses it, he's going to be suspended for failing to take care of his equipment."

Williams, who was out of town, could not be reached for comment. However, Police Commission President Jesse A. Brewer said many of the problems are the result of funding shortages. "I'm sure they understand the city's broke and there are certain things we cannot do," he said.

Brewer said he was unaware of the problems with gun racks and vests, describing those as safety issues that should be resolved immediately. "I don't think we should cut corners there," he said. "If an officer needs a new (vest), we should give him a new one."

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