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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary

Parks, Riordan Accept Return of Liaison Officers

October 06, 2000

LOS ANGELES — Yielding to pressure from community activists, Mayor Richard Riordan and Police Chief Bernard C. Parks said Thursday that they favor redeploying LAPD's senior lead officers, the community liaisons who had been assigned to routine patrol duties.

At a news conference Thursday, Riordan announced a plan to bring back and enhance the program, which he said will improve "community policing without reducing field or patrol resources."

Riordan proposed scheduling the 168 senior lead officers so that each station has one on duty seven days a week and training them to enhance their ability to solve problems, plan strategically and deal effectively with the mentally disabled.

He proposed phasing in half of the officers immediately and the remaining 84 during the coming fiscal year.

The Police Commission will consider Riordan's proposal Tuesday.

"I'm fully supportive of the mayor's call for reinstating the senior lead officer program--and enhancing it," said Police Commission President Gerald L. Chaleff. "I think it's an outstanding program."

Senior lead officers were deployed in the early 1990s on the recommendation of the Christopher Commission as part of an effort to repair damaged relations between police and the community.

Under the program, 168 officers were assigned to work as liaisons with neighborhood watch groups, homeowners associations and business leaders with a goal of addressing such crimes as graffiti and drug dealing.

The program proved popular in many neighborhoods, and there was an outcry from community activists when Parks announced in 1999 that he was reassigning the lead officers to routine patrol duties. The change, he said, was part of an effort to involve the entire force in community policing.

Since scrapping the program, Parks had dismissed repeated calls from activists and many city officials to bring the senior lead officers back.

But he changed his position Thursday.

"The department is pleased that the mayor shares in the department's committed goal of institutionalizing community-based policing" throughout the department, Parks said.

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