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Police Commission OKs 3 Steps to Implement Reforms

October 11, 1995|JODI WILGOREN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

More than four years after the Christopher Commission issued its landmark report detailing problems plaguing the Los Angeles Police Department, the city's Police Commission on Tuesday took three steps to implement recommendations in the report.

The Police Commission hired Christopher Commission deputy general counsel Merrick J. Bobb as a consultant to launch its new office of the inspector general, approved a request for proposals for consultants to establish a discrimination complaint unit for the LAPD, and convened the first meeting of a committee designed to implement the report.

"This is an ongoing process--a race with no finish line," Commissioner Art Mattox said in a statement Tuesday.

Bobb, who also served as counsel to the county's Kolts Commission on law enforcement reforms and continues to be a consultant to the Sheriff's Department, pledged to conduct a "calm inventory" of what has been done so far to implement the Christopher reforms and offer a "clear-eyed assessment" of what needs to happen next.

He will be paid $200 an hour, with a maximum of $20,000.

"His record on reform is exemplary," Police Commission President Deirdre Hill said. "We look forward to a short contract and accomplishing a lot in that period of time."

Commission spokeswoman Elena Stern said attorney Mark Epstein also has offered his services pro bono to help Bobb.

Following up on a key Christopher suggestion, the Police Commission gave the nod Tuesday to hiring someone to design a gender and race discrimination unit that would investigate and monitor complaints and provide training. The independent unit will serve just the LAPD, while a parallel unit handles complaints throughout other city departments and agencies.

In addition, the Cultural Diversity Training working group met Tuesday afternoon to discuss current programs for recruits and veteran personnel. The working group is one of several helping the Police Commission's new Human Relations Task Force, which, in turn, is one of five task forces on implementing the Christopher Commission report formed this spring. The others have yet to meet.

While some concrete steps are just getting under way, Police Department officials said implementation of the Christopher reforms have been going on for several years. For example, Police Chief Willie L. Williams reported Tuesday that complaints over excessive use of force--a primary topic of the Christopher Commission--have dropped steadily since 1992.

Williams said there were 232 complaints in 1992, 224 in 1993, 168 in 1994, and only 81 through August of this year. "That's a very good sign," he said.

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