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LAPD Chief and Commission

June 04, 1995

* Re " 'I Am Not a Liar,' Chief Declares," May 25: How the worm has turned. The same people who two years ago said that the chief of police should be accountable to elected officials are now protesting the intrusion of politics into the Police Department. And your headline was reminiscent of Richard Nixon's "I am not a crook" pronouncement shortly before he was run out of Washington in a hail of subpoenas and indictments.

While LAPD Chief Willie Williams may be popular in certain segments of the community, for him to be effective he needs the respect of his department as well. It seems clear that respect has eroded, and now that his personal integrity has been called into question I fail to see how he can remain as chief. I'm sure that there are administrators within the LAPD and elsewhere who can both manage and lead the department without the cloud of controversy that will surely shadow Williams for the remainder of his tenure.

JACK DUNPHY

Pacific Palisades

* I am appalled and concerned by the obvious lack of support afforded Chief Williams by Mayor Richard Riordan and other highly placed officeholders. The recent articles in The Times highlight the difficulty that Williams has had from the beginning of his stint as chief. Unfortunately, Williams has enjoyed less than full support from the powerful politicians because he came from out of state and probably does not conform to the politicians' desires. Likewise, the rank and file of LAPD have been angry because one of their own was not chosen as chief.

As usual, the person who has the guts to bring new ideas and approaches to old problems is being made the scapegoat by those who have other agendas. It is painfully apparent to me that these recent actions against Williams have major political overtones, and I will be paying very close attention to all those people who are involved, particularly if Williams is forced out now or at the end of his contract.

S. A. BAGBY

Los Angeles

* I disagree with your editorial, "Rush to Judgment About the Chief?" (May 25). The situation requires expeditious attention. We must have confidence in our police. Top management must be respected and provide effective leadership.

Certainly the chief should be given every opportunity to clear his name. However, if he lied to the commission, this is sufficient to terminate his contract. If an investigation shows the commission to be at fault, commission members should be replaced. Unfortunately, the judgment of the chief's action cannot be based on degree. The chief must be beyond reproach.

SION COLVIN

Woodland Hills

* The chief of the LAPD needs skills in two particular areas, management and leadership. The Police Commission will have to determine the chief's competence in management. But the rank-and-file officers are the best measure of his leadership. And in this area, the chief continues to fail.

And his selection of Melanie Lomax as his attorney in his current difficulties with the commission shows his lack of concern for the officers under his command. After all, most of those officers do remember that it was Lomax who led the ill-fated effort to fire Chief Daryl Gates, without any hearing or any charges, just after the Rodney King incident. Her handling of that matter was so outrageous that the Christopher Commission called for her resignation, and was supported by Mayor Tom Bradley.

Given this history, it does seem a little incongruous for her to complain about efforts to "destabilize the leadership of Chief Williams." Both Lomax and Williams supported Charter Amendment F on the June, 1992, ballot. This allows the chief to be removed, and he is now faced with that real possibility.

HOWARD L. EKERLING

Sherman Oaks

* So. L.A. crime is on a downward trend. The police chief appears to be hard-working, respectful, reflective and intelligent. Not enough excitement for L.A.? Let's dig something up and can him!

DEL SPIVA

Los Angeles

* Retired LAPD Assistant Chief David Dotson's column (Opinion, May 21) did make some good points in connection with the Police Commission's demonstrating some assertiveness in managing the Police Department. However, managing is one thing but leadership is another.

The mayor and his appointed commissioners should outline more precisely the "reforms" they wish to achieve, and not just keep harping about implementing Christopher Commission recommendations. Most people forget that 146 of those very recommendations were in place before Chief Gates left the department.

As a member of LAPD's Community Police Advisory Board, Central Division, I would add that the entire department and the chief have followed through on the most important Christopher recommendation: involving the citizens in a working relationship with the "street" officers and management of all 18 LAPD divisions in the city. This is now a very meaningful partnership, with a broad-based community participation, and it's working.

DONALD H. CLINTON

Los Angeles

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