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A Tough Person for a Tough Job

Ex-prosecutor is a good choice to police L.A.'s police

May 30, 1996

The Los Angeles Police Commission, in another welcome indication that it remains serious about reform despite resistance in the uniformed ranks, has appointed a tough former prosecutor to police the police.

Katherine Mader, who becomes the LAPD's first inspector general, has faced cops accused of criminal wrongdoing as a member of the district attorney's office. This does not endear her to those officers who prefer that the Police Commission's insistence on reform simply go away. But that's not going to happen, and Mader will play a key part in keeping the pressure on.

This pivotal reform becomes a reality five long years after the Christopher Commission recommended the creation of an inspector general's office that would be independent of the LAPD's self-policing Internal Affairs Division and a year after Los Angeles voters approved Charter Amendment 3, which authorizes establishment of the office. The proposed salary discouraged candidates for the job until the City Council boosted it into the $90,000 range. Mader will be worth every penny and more if she succeeds in meting out, where appropriate, tough discipline for officers who break the rules. A slap on the wrist is no longer acceptable.

Lax punishment was one of the problems cited by the Christopher Commission, and its proposal for an independent disciplinary arm was not a new idea. After the 1965 Watts riots, the McCone Commission called for a similar office of police investigators and citizens that would have operated outside the chain of command and handled civilian complaints against officers. That recommendation was ignored.

Inspector General Mader is not likely to be disregarded. She has a reputation for tenacity, a quality she will need when she takes on the largely closed world of the L.A. Police Department. The force should get the message. The Police Commission wants action. The inspector general has support.

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