"You approach the car and, particularly if the person is African American, they already have their hands in the air," said Sanders. "You ask why and they say, 'That's what they make us do it in L.A.' "
San Diego officer Chris Everett spent four years in the LAPD, in the Hollywood and 77th Street divisions, before joining the San Diego force seven years ago. He admires the LAPD but describes the difference in policing in the two cities as roughly akin to night and day.
"In Los Angeles, the style is to always be on guard, always maintain a tactical advantage, a kind of distance, because of the kind of incidents that police have experienced and the traditional behavior toward police that some people in Los Angeles have," said Everett.
"Here, police are careful but they don't assume everybody is going to be aggressive or violent. We try to be more approachable."
A Variety of Differences
Examples of how the departments differ are abundant:
* LAPD has resisted calls from U.S. Atty. General Janet Reno and others to compile data to determine if police are using "racial profiling" when deciding which motorists to pull over. San Diego began such a study last year, and Bejarano has promised to release the results to community groups before they are reviewed by departmental analysts.
* LAPD has been slow to adopt a recommendation of the Christopher Commission to devise a computer program tracking which officers attract the most citizen complaints. San Diego three years ago installed a computer program that tells a lieutenant when any officer gets two complaints in a 12-month period so the officer can be sent for possible retraining or discipline.
* LAPD posts lists in some squad rooms of which officers have made the most arrests. San Diego officials say they don't even keep such lists. "You get what you measure," Welter said. "If you want officers solving problems, counting arrests isn't going to help."
* San Diego tries to ensure that 40% of a beat cop's work day is "non-committed time" to work with residents on neighborhood problems. LAPD encourages such involvement but does not require it or provide specific time, a spokesman said.
* LAPD uses a management system akin to that used by the New York Police Department, where area commanders are brought together regularly and grilled by top brass about why crime numbers are not declining and what is being done to solve certain high-profile crimes. San Diego officials find that system needlessly confrontational and likely to undercut morale and produce crime figures of dubious credibility.
* The LAPD chief has a five-year contract from the Police Commission and appeal rights to the City Council if any action is taken against him, a reform imposed after Gates retired. The San Diego chief reports to the city manager, who can fire him without notice, explanations or appeal.
"You think about it," Sanders said of the job insecurity of being San Diego chief. "But it also means you have to work with everybody. It produces compromise and listening. Listening is very important to police work."
The chief's job is "to get along with the politicians, not the other way around," said Burgreen. "I think Gates--who I consider a friend--forgot that and ended up fighting his community rather than working with it."
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San Diego has had the second-lowest crime rate and steepest drop in crime over the last decade among cities of at least 1 million population. New York City is first but hasproportionately three times as many police officers on the street.
1999 crime Rate of Police Officers per 100,000 change officers per 1,000 residents 1990-99 in 1998 residents Dallas 9,754 -37% 2,855 2.65 Chicago 8,162 -27% 13,469 4.81 Phoenix 7,899 -26% 2,493 2.08 Houston 7,375 -34% 5,453 3.05 Philadelphia 7,287 1% 6,912 4.81 San Antonio 6,891 -42% 1,875 1.68 Los Angeles 4,656 -50% 9,723 2.70 San Diego 4,062 -56% 2,021 1.66 New York 4,037 -58% 39,149 5.28
Note: Crime rates for 1999 are based on 1998 population figures, the latest available. Rates for Chicago exclude rape.