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/ DEVELOPMENTS IN LOS ANGELES COUNTY

Former Lead Officers Get Phones to Stay in Touch

May 26, 2000

LOS ANGELES — Mayor Richard Riordan and Police Chief Bernard Parks announced the donation Thursday of 233 cellular phones for use by police officers who were reassigned last year from full-time community liaison work to patrol duties.

They said the phones will make the police easily accessible to neighborhood leaders, many of whom are complaining about the shift of the liaison officers out onto the beat.

"Your senior lead officer can be out on patrol making the city safer while at the same time responding to your concerns," Riordan said about the phones donated by AT & T Wireless, Ericsson Mobile Phones and the Wireless Foundation.

Officers who get calls about quality of life problems can ask their watch commander for permission to take time off patrol to deal directly with the concern, officials said.

Those who oppose that deployment decision say the phones are just an attempt to blunt criticism about the reassignments.

"To believe that a cell phone can replace a live human in the community developing trust is absurd, it's an insult," said Councilman Joel Wachs.

Added Sandy Munz of the North Hollywood group Save Our Senior Leads: "It's a bone thrown to the public at the eleventh hour."

Ted Hunt, president of the police union, said he is evaluating a ballot measure that would force Parks to restore the senior lead officers if the Police Commission doesn't act.

Parks said Thursday he has no plans to restore the 168 senior lead officers to the full-time liaison jobs.

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