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At LAPD, Top Staff Awaits Fate

Police: Mark Kroeker says he will consider outside offers. Those who were allied with Williams probably will not see promotions under Parks, sources say.

August 08, 1997|BETH SHUSTER and MATT LAIT | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

Two summers ago, Deputy Chief Mark Kroeker seriously considered leaving the Los Angeles Police Department. He wasn't going to be promoted and worse, he felt that his leadership was being undermined by his boss, then-Chief Willie L. Williams.

But high-level city officials, including Mayor Richard Riordan, persuaded Kroeker to stay. Their message: Stick around and it will be worth your while.

"I was given encouraging words," Kroeker said. "I had a sense that in his [Riordan's] understanding of what a chief should be, that would be me."

Now, after being passed over by the mayor, who selected Deputy Chief Bernard C. Parks for the top job, Kroeker is once again considering his options, and once again the mayor is asking him to stay--this time to help a new chief lead the department.

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"If I get calls from serious people with serious ideas about a future that includes me, I would give it serious thought," Kroeker said.

Kroeker is not the only one considering his future within the intensely political Police Department. A number of top officials are wondering what their fate will be under Parks.

Managers whom Parks considers to be ineffective and those who were closely allied to ex-chief Williams, an archenemy of the soon-to-be new chief, probably won't get plum assignments or promotions any time soon. In that context, sources say, Deputy Chiefs Ronald Banks and Frank Piersol have the most to worry about.

"They're big losers," said one high-ranking official. "They're going to be put out to pasture."

Banks and Piersol rose to the coveted position of assistant chief under Williams, but were recently demoted by interim Chief Bayan Lewis. Both are considered to have been too closely linked to an administration that many officials say failed to provide strong leadership and implement reforms.

"I've already been demoted. I've already suffered," Banks said. "I'm one of those that they would probably move around . . . [but] I don't have a clue. I'm not in the inner circle."

Others, sources say, who may not fare well in Parks' administration include Cmdr. Garrett Zimmon, who worked closely with Williams to spearhead the department's community policing program, and Nels Klyver, director of Organizational Development, a civilian employee who was jokingly called "chief" under Williams.

Zimmon, however, said he did not expect to be punished because of his association with Williams.

"I don't think that will be the case," he said. "My belief is that he'll look for people with the best skills and abilities and who are the best for the LAPD."

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Others are expected to have their stock rise, especially those who stuck by Parks after he was publicly demoted and humiliated by Williams in 1994. Among those who could be rewarded with top assignments and promotions are Deputy Chief David Gascon, Parks' close friend and a competitor for the chief's post.

Like Parks, all have reputations as effective managers who put a premium on performance. United and like-minded, they are expected to give Parks the administrative muscle to push his agenda through the fractious department.

Several department officials, moreover, believe that Parks' demonstrated institutional loyalty to the LAPD will preclude too expansive a vendetta by assignment.

"I really think he's going to support those individuals who have supported the organization, who have been loyal to the principles and standards of the organization," said Cmdr. Art Lopez, a semifinalist for the chief's job, who is considered by some to be an ambitious rising star in the department. "I don't think he's looking for personal loyalty but loyalty to the organization."

Said another department official: "Parks will put square pegs in square holes. . . . If you're an idiot, you better go over and see the retirement coordinator."

Parks, who is expected to be confirmed by the City Council next week, has remained tight-lipped about how he plans to reorganize the LAPD command structure except to say that both Kroeker and Gascon will play key roles.

Parks told Kroeker in a meeting this week that he planned to meet with the deputy chiefs and commanders individually to discuss their futures. Kroeker said Parks "will take his time on it."

For his part, Kroeker said he will accept any position Parks assigns him. But he also said he will consider options outside the LAPD, including a possible run for Los Angeles County sheriff--if his close friend Sherman Block, the current sheriff, chooses not to seek reelection.

Those expected to receive promotions or preferred assignments under Parks include: Deputy Chief Martin Pomeroy, who commands the Valley Bureau; Cmdr. Gregory Berg, who oversees Internal Affairs; Cmdr. J.I. Davis, who is acting chief in the South Bureau; Cmdr. Dave Kalish, who oversees the personnel group; Cmdr. Royal Scott LaChasse, who oversees the narcotics division; and Cmdr. Maurice Moore, who heads the command officers association and who commands the West Bureau.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

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