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Job Plan for LAPD Not Likely to Mar Affirmative Action


Despite questions by some lawmakers, city officials Thursday assured Councilwoman Laura Chick that her plan to quickly expand the Los Angeles Police Department by hiring 50 reservists and former officers would not disrupt the department's affirmative action program.

The council had been scheduled to vote on Chick's proposal Wednesday, but sent it to a committee for further study after questions were raised that hiring the experienced officers--many of them white men--would violate the requirements of the affirmative action program. The program, aimed at increasing the percentage of minority race and women officers, has made it difficult for the department to hire white men.

But after meeting Thursday with officials of the police and personnel departments and the city attorney's office, members of Chick's staff said they were told the city could compensate for hiring white men by admitting more women and minority race recruits to the Police Academy.

Chick, who represents the southwestern San Fernando Valley, unseated Joy Picus in last spring's election, campaigning on a promise to beef up the LAPD.

She has proposed a quick 50-officer expansion of the department by hiring former officers who resigned in good standing within the past three years and reserve officers with at least 2,000 hours of experience.

Councilwoman Rita Walters, a longtime civil rights activist who represents South-Central Los Angeles, questioned whether Chick's plan might result in hiring only white male former officers and reservists, upsetting affirmative action efforts.

But Chick said later Thursday, after her staff talked with officials from the other departments, that "that's been straightened out and now we're into can-do talk."

Chick was told Thursday that there are 275 to 375 eligible reservists and former officers. No estimate was immediately available on the number of officers who might be available for hiring from other law enforcement agencies, who Chick also wants to make eligible for the program.

The existence of such a sizable pool increases the likelihood that if Chick's plan is adopted and aggressively promoted, all 50 slots can be filled, said Phil Henning, assistant general manager of the city's Personnel Department.

"It's not unreasonable to expect that we could fill 40 to 50 positions in a couple of months," said Henning, who participated in Thursday's talks.

Henning said recent history indicates that reservists and officers who have recently resigned would indeed be mostly white men, to a degree that would exceed the affirmative action plan.

In pushing her program, Chick has argued that reservists and former officers could be given six to eight weeks of refresher training in the latest LAPD policies and techniques and then be put in the field.

Raw recruits, on the other hand, receive eight months of training at the Police Academy and then are on probation for one year, under the supervision of a training officer.

The cost of bringing a recruit through the entire training program costs about $240,000, according to the LAPD.

Meanwhile, Henning said the Personnel Department is now also prepared to create a special job classification to implement the Chick plan.

Without a new classification, it might be impossible under city civil service rules to hire the reservists or returnees, Henning said, because they would have to compete with the nearly 10,000 candidates now on the LAPD's hiring list.

"Now you've got to score in the top 1 or 2% (on the LAPD's oral interview test) to be hired," Henning said.

"We're not saying that these other candidates are poor prospects--it's just that you can score 95 on the test and not get hired, it's so competitive," he said. To circumvent this obstacle, the Personnel Department will recommend that the City Council establish a new job classification that gives hiring preference to people who are already trained and have police experience, Henning said.

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