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Prop. F and LAPD Accountability

January 26, 1997

* "We're Paying for Voters' Haste in LAPD 'Reform' " (Commentary, Jan. 9) widely missed the mark by failing to understand the voters' wisdom in passing Proposition F.

Those who lament the people's 1992 decision to remove the chief of police from civil service status disagree with ending what amounted to the chief's having permanent tenure without the mayor, City Council or the people being able to remove the chief unless he did something flagrantly illegal. They claim these reforms have "politicized" the selection process, as though the word "politics" were inherently evil and not, in fact, the way a representative society operates.

Proposition F was about accountability. The Rodney King incident and the self-examination the city and its police underwent afterward were the ideal milieu for instituting accountability.

With a police chief not answerable to the people or their elected representatives, Los Angeles had a police chief who could not be fired. It did not matter whether he was performing badly or just plain mediocre when the city needed someone outstanding. Can you imagine a corporate president not accountable to the board of directors and the stockholders?

Championing such a system is antithetical to the best traditions of democratic societies. Certainly it is contrary to our American tradition of accountability to citizens.

What Proposition F did was to make our police chief the people's servant, and not the unquestioned ruler of an empire in blue.

Finally, in addition to accountability, Proposition F gave us the major reform of community-based policing, which is successful and greatly appreciated all over Los Angeles. Community-based policing is being used in major police departments all over America because it works. We need to keep it working in Los Angeles, too.


City Council, 11th District

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