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Racism in LAPD

October 22, 1995

* Re "Chief, Officers Pledge to Rid LAPD of Racism," Oct. 13:

While I believe Chief Willie Williams wants to do what he can to eliminate the Mark Fuhrmans from the LAPD, his badge of sincerity became seriously tarnished after I read his response to the question "whether he could guarantee that no future Fuhrmans would join the force." Williams said, "When every bank, law firm, court, private industry and everything else in the world can guarantee that they don't hire Mark Fuhrmans, then I'll be able to guarantee it." This statement is an absolute "cop-out."

The extreme degree of scrutiny that should be exercised by the LAPD when screening new recruits can hardly be compared to the civilian work force. The employees of banks, law firms and private industry are not allowed to carry guns or make arrests. Obviously they also don't have any of the other powers of a law enforcement officer. I do, however, agree that the courts should be scrupulous in the hiring of individuals.

What I am waiting to hear from Williams is the establishment of new criteria and guidelines for the screening of new recruits; a new system of identifying and speedily kicking out the Fuhrmans who slip through the cracks; enforcing a zero toleration for the use of "codes of silence," and finally, providing officers a sanctuary that allows them to safely reveal their problems and concerns about fellow officers.

MARLENE MATLOW

Malibu

* Re "A Simple Time, in Black and White," Commentary, Oct 12:

Glenn Souza failed to mention that back in the Chief William Parker regime, the citizens of Los Angeles could depend on their Police Department and respected it as well. I can recall, as a youngster growing up in the Highland Park area back in the early 1960s, citizens actually addressing police officers as "Sir." Whenever you called the police for a problem, you didn't have to wait 15 minutes listening to a recording, you would speak to an officer and a car would be dispatched.

Back then, nobody ever even heard of a drive-by shooting, graffiti, crack house, gang violence or a purse-snatch. The LAPD took care of business and were patrolling the streets instead of "chasing radio calls" as they do now.

People were not afraid of sleeping with their windows open and seldom locked their doors and could freely walk down the sidewalks of their neighborhoods without the fear of being confronted by street hoodlums or being harassed by beggars.

TIM BRAGG

Eagle Rock

* The Times' Oct. 15 article that tracks the history of 44 LAPD problem officers (ones who had six or more use-of-force complaints from 1986 to 1990) lists former LAPD officer Taroo A. Mason, I believe unfairly. Mason, whom I have known for 17 years, was one of the finest officers ever to serve on the LAPD, and was wrongfully terminated from his employment because the LAPD discriminated against African American officers who were accused of misconduct. Mason is not a person who ever would use, or who did use, excessive force against anyone. Had he been Caucasian, he still would be on the force. I sue cops for a living, and I know.

Since Mason was not even on the LAPD when the Christopher Commission report was rendered in 1991, he never should have been among those it listed as so-called problem officers. It is doubly wrong for The Times to profile him, yet again, for things he did not do, and which allegedly occurred nearly 10 years ago.

STEPHEN YAGMAN

Venice

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