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Police Dept. Management

April 18, 1999

The April 11 commentary by former LAPD Capt. Paul Marks ("Police Officer Perfection Comes at a Very High Price") was a revealing admission regarding the management philosophy of fear and intimidation that permeates the command structure of the Los Angeles Police Department.

Were the viewpoint of Marks not so insidious and harmful to the public interest, one could find humor in the misplaced hubris expressed in his identification of command officers as "martyrs" in some great cause. His insulting generalization of police officers as law violators who frequently commit "vile and disgusting acts" is juxtaposed against his fawning adoration of saintly command officers. What utter arrogance.

Incongruously, police officers are expected to display compassion and empathy for the public, yet the management philosophy espoused by Marks and Chief Bernard Parks includes "an impersonal, dispassionate, almost cynical style of professionalism." In other words, it's acceptable for police officers to be treated like the dirt on the mat at the back of the station by department managers, yet those same managers expect officers to put on their smiles and friendly demeanor when they go and face the public.

The Protective League supports accountability of officers to the department and public, but demands for perfection lead to unrealistic expectations, frustration and bitterness for officers who are expected to reach an impossible standard. We believe the public wants humans as police officers, not cyborgs.

DAVE HEPBURN, President, L.A. Police Protective League

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